Whoa! Love Indicator Found in Brain?

Did you see the Associated Press article a few years back that reported about a doctoral student at University College London, Andreas Bartels, now Ph.D and research scientist, who presented his research at the Society for Neuroscience? The subtitle read, “MRI discovers four tiny bits get lit up when people are shown picture of sweetheart”?

He used an MRI brain scan to examine 17 students whose statements that they were ‘truly in love’ were backed up by psychological tests. Bartels’ research claims that when the students were shown pictures of their sweethearts, anywhere from 6 to 20 areas of the brain lit up (indicating higher blood flow) than when they were shown pictures of other people they knew, including friends. And 3 larger areas of the brain that have to do with when people get upset or depressed, showed reduced activity.

How many of us, though, need to know our brain lights up when we think about, see or are with the one we love? And not just our brain, but our eyes, our faces and, most certainly our hearts! This is a different experience than feelings caused by sexual arousal, or emotional feelings that come from needing/finding attention. It’s the ‘feelings’ of love, for lack of a better phrase.

The test of ‘true’ love comes when life ‘happens.’ You know, financial pressure, in-law stress, the responsibilities of raising children, when illness strikes and just plain time…when age begins to show its signs. One of the major keys to a long-lasting relationship, despite what life throws at you, is…commitment.

Commitment to fidelity. Did you know that despite a culture inundated with sex, most married partners are faithful to each other? That’s right. A survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicato found that 85% of women and 75% of men are faithful to their spouses. The big word here is,


In marriages where trust is strong, the union is strong and will tend to last longer and be happier than strained relationships where one or both spouses have been unfaithful. The other big word is, trust.

And I’ll bet you, couples whose brains would have lit up had they been a part of Bartel’s research, would still light up 10 or 25 or 50 years later.