This is your brain on love (and other drugs)

Researchers compare functional MRI images of people who say they are experiencing various types of love and compare the corresponding brain activity to getting high on cocaine.

Forget about roses. If you really want to nail it tonight, try this on for size:

Darling, when you touch my face like that, my dorsolateral middle frontal gyrus is but one region that releases a variety of chemicals into my blood stream, thus beginning their incredibly rewarding--and speedy--journey to my nether regions and resulting in undulating pleasures.

So say researchers at Syracuse University who found, in their 2010 MRI study, "The Neuroimaging of Love," that falling in love takes about a fifth of a second, looks neurologically similar to getting high on cocaine, and affects sophisticated cognitive functions, including metaphors and body image.

Which means you could also charm the object of your neuro-affection with the line: "Darling, given how quickly we fell in love, we should be celebrating the mere achievement of simply liking each other after the initial high wore off."

Syracuse Professor Stephanie Ortigue and her team analyzed functional MRI images with researchers at West Virginia University and a university hospital in Switzerland and published their results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Their work was featured in Discover and throughout Europe, and West Virginia researcher James W. Lewis partnered up with Scientific American Art Director Jen Christiansen to create the above graphic in time for Valentine's Day.

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About the author

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.

 

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