Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Anguish Of Romantic Rejection May Be Linked To Stimulation Of Areas Of Brain Related To Motivation, Reward And Addiction

23.07.2010
Breaking up really is hard to do, and a recent study conducted at Stony Brook University found evidence that it may be partly due to the areas of the brain that are active during this difficult time.

The team of researchers, which included Arthur Aron, Ph.D., professor of social and health psychology in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, and former graduate students Greg Strong and Debra Mashek looked at subjects who had a recent break-up and found that the pain and anguish they were experiencing may be linked to activation of parts of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction cravings. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

"This brain imaging study of individuals who were still 'in love' with their rejecter supplies further evidence that the passion of 'romantic love' is a goal-oriented motivation state rather than a specific emotion" the researchers concluded, noting that brain imaging showed some similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving. "The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that romantic love is a specific form of addiction."

The study also helps to explain "why feelings and behaviors related to romantic rejection are difficult to control" and why extreme behaviors associated with romantic rejection such as stalking, homicide, suicide, and clinical depression occur in cultures all over the world, the researchers wrote.

"Romantic rejection is a major cause of suicides and depression. We have known very little about it. Understanding the neural systems involved is extremely important both for advancing our basic knowledge of intense romantic love in general and of response to rejection in particular," said Dr. Aron. "The specific findings are significant because they tell us that the basic patterns seen in previous studies of happy love share key elements with love under these circumstances; they also tell us that what is unique to romantic rejection includes elements that are very much like craving for cocaine."

The study was headed by Helen Fisher, a research professor and member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, N.J., and co-author Lucy L. Brown of the Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the Bronx, N.Y. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record brain activity in 15 college-age, heterosexual men and women who had recently been rejected by their partners. All reported that they were still intensely "in love" with that former partner, spent the majority of their waking hours thinking of the person who rejected them, and yearned for the person to return. Participants were shown a photograph of their former partner, then completed a simple math exercise to distract them from their romantic thoughts. They then viewed a photograph of a familiar "neutral" person.

The researchers found that viewing photographs of their former partners stimulated several key areas of the participants' brains to a greater degree than when they looked at photos of neutral persons. The areas are:

* the ventral tegmental area in the mid-brain, which controls motivation and reward and is known to be involved in feelings of romantic love,
* the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex, which are associated with craving and addiction, specifically the dopaminergic reward system evident in cocaine addiction, and

* the insular cortex and the anterior cingulate, which are associated with physical pain and distress.

"It shows that intense romantic love seems to function much like an addiction," Dr. Aron said. "But that does not tell us one way or the other whether the desire to be in love in general is an addiction." Dr. Aron noted that some of what has been learned over the years in this area may be useful in helping people attempting to recover from drug addiction.

The study also provided some evidence that "time heals all wounds". Researchers found that as time passed, an area of the brain associated with attachment - the right ventral putamen/pallidum area - showed less activity when the participants viewed photographs of their former partners.

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. In the 50+ years since its founding, the University has grown tremendously, now with nearly 24,700 students and 2,200 faculty and is recognized as one of the nation's important centers of learning and scholarship. It is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, and ranks among the top 100 national universities in America and among the top 50 public national universities in the country according to the 2010 U.S. News & World Report survey. Considered one of the "flagship" campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook University co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory , joining an elite group of universities, including Berkeley, University of Chicago, Cornell, MIT, and Princeton, that run federal research and development laboratories. SBU is a driving force of the Long Island economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4% of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.

Images are available at: http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/104/1/51/F1

Donna Bannoon | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.stonybrook.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>