Washington, Feb 11 (ANI): Ever wondered why some people cheat in relationships while others' love remains intense even after years? Now, science tells you why.
A new study has found that when these intensely-in-love-people see pictures of their beloved, their brains respond in an area associated with deeply rewarding and motivating feelings-one of the same areas that lights up in people who are still entangled in the passionate throws of a new relationship.
By finding physical parallels between people who are newly in love and those who have been intensely in love for a long time, the study has offered biological evidence that romantic love is real and can be long-lasting.
The study, which focused on a group that held particularly strong feelings for their long-term partners, also suggested that couples who simply strive to be happy together may not be aiming high enough, said Arthur Aron, a of the Stony Brook University in New York.
"This should be inspiring to people who are considering getting married. For long-term couples, it suggests there's a higher possibility than people were imagining," Discovery News quoted Aron as saying.
According to the study, when people looked at pictures of a new partner their brains fired in a region that processes the reward-inducing brain chemical dopamine.
It's the same region that responds to food, alcohol and cocaine, and motivates people to want more of something.
However, as with time, relationships often change and people commonly debate whether intense romantic love can last.
To begin to test these theories, Aron and colleagues conducted the first brain-scan study of people in long-term love.
In the lab, participants looked at pictures of their partner's faces. Then they looked at a variety of comparison faces, including people they were close to but not passionately in love with. All the while, an fMRI machine recorded activity throughout their brains.
Compared to the brain scans of people who had recently fallen in love, there were some differences. For example, only the new lovers had activity in the parts of the brain related to tension and obsession. And only long-term lovers showed extra activity in areas related to attachment and pair bonding.
But both groups showed comparable activity in a dopamine-processing region of the brain called the ventral tegmental area. Married partners who rated themselves highest on the scale of intense love showed more activity in that area than did long-term partners who reported slightly lower levels of intensity.
"The question is if these claims of intense love in long-term relationships are real. This adds to our confidence that the answer is yes. This is confirmation that there's something real here. It's not just people kidding themselves," said Aron.
The findings have been reported in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. (ANI)