Article

Regional brain activity during early-stage intense romantic love predicted relationship outcomes after 40 months: An fMRI assessment.

Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA; Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School, Brown University and the Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center of Miriam Hospital, USA.
Neuroscience Letters (Impact Factor: 2.03). 08/2012; 526(1):33-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.08.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Early-stage romantic love is associated with activation in reward and motivation systems of the brain. Can these localized activations, or others, predict long-term relationship stability? We contacted participants from a previous fMRI study of early-stage love by Xu et al. [34] after 40 months from initial assessments. We compared brain activation during the initial assessment at early-stage love for those who were still together at 40 months and those who were apart, and surveyed those still together about their relationship happiness and commitment at 40 months. Six participants who were still with their partners at 40 months (compared to six who had broken up) showed less activation during early-stage love in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, right subcallosal cingulate and right accumbens, regions implicated in long-term love and relationship satisfaction [1,2]. These regions of deactivation at the early stage of love were also negatively correlated with relationship happiness scores collected at 40 months. Other areas involved were the caudate tail, and temporal and parietal lobes. These data are preliminary evidence that neural responses in the early stages of romantic love can predict relationship stability and quality up to 40 months later in the relationship. The brain regions involved suggest that forebrain reward functions may be predictive for relationship stability, as well as regions involved in social evaluation, emotional regulation, and mood.

5 Bookmarks
 · 
1,111 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective Individuals involved in the early stages of a passionate romantic relationship can be consumed by the experience and report emotional dependence and constant focus on their romantic partner. A few studies have shown that viewing pictures of a romantic partner can significantly reduce experimental pain. The strength of the effect, however, varies substantially between individuals. To study why some individuals experience significant pain reduction when looking at a picture of their partner, we examined partner preoccupation. We hypothesized that a greater degree of preoccupation in the early stages of a romantic relationship would be associated with greater analgesia during a pain induction task.Methods Participants were shown pictures of their romantic partner or an equally attractive and familiar acquaintance while exposed to low, moderate, or high levels of thermal pain. Participants were also asked to rate how much time they spent thinking about their romantic partner during an average day. Degree of preoccupation was defined as the percentage of time participants spent thinking about their partner on an average day.ResultsIn two separate experiments, viewing pictures of a romantic partner produced an analgesic effect. The degree of pain relief was positively correlated with partner preoccupation. The results suggest that preoccupation with a romantic partner during early stage romantic love is a predictor of pain relief when viewing pictures of the beloved.
    Pain Medicine 05/2014; · 2.46 Impact Factor

Full-text

View
278 Downloads
Available from
Jun 1, 2014