London, Jan 4: If you thought true love was something just restricted to movies and soaps, then here's a piece of information: brain scans have revealed that couples can respond with as much passion after 20 years as most people exhibit only in the first flush of love.
Shakespeare once said that "love is an ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken". Now, it seems, he was telling the truth, at least that's what researchers at Stony Brook University in New York think.
Scanning the brains of people who have been together for 20 years, the scientists found that about one in 10 couples still display elements of 'limerence', the psychologists' term for the obsessive behaviour of new lovers.
They enjoy 'intensive companionship and sexual liveliness' but without the anxieties and tensions of early love. They are generous, calm and deeply attached.
The scientists call them swans (swans mate for life).
The reactions of the swans to pictures of their beloved were identified on MRI brain scans as a burst of pleasure-producing dopamine more commonly seen in couples who are gripped in the first flush of lust, reports Times Online.
"The findings go against the traditional view of romance - that it drops off sharply in the first decade - but we are sure it's real," said Arthur Aron, a psychologist at Stony Brook.
Aron said when he first interviewed people claiming they were still in love after an average of 21 years he thought they were fooling themselves: "But this is what the brain scans tell us and people can't fake that."