A new study of young mothers by researchers at University College London (UCL) has shown that romantic and maternal love activate many of the same specific regions of the brain, and lead to a suppression of neural activity associated with critical social assessment of other people and negative emotions. The findings suggest that once one is closely familiar with a person, the need to assess the character and personality of that person is reduced, and bring us closer to explaining why, in neurological terms, ‘love makes blind.’
In the experiment, published in February’s NeuroImage online preview edition, the brains of 20 young mothers were scanned while they viewed pictures of their own children, children they were acquainted with, and adult friends, to control for feelings of familiarity and friendship (the brain regions involved in romantic love having been identified by the authors in an earlier study).
The similarity of the activity recorded in this study compared to those obtained in the earlier study was striking; with activity in several regions of the brain overlapping precisely in the two studies. In summary, the findings showed that both types of love activate specific regions in the reward system, while reducing activity in the systems necessary for making negative judgements.
Dominique Fourniol | alfa
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