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.

0 0
 · 
4 Bookmarks
 · 
863 Views
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present study examined the neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ten women and 7 men married an average of 21.4 years underwent fMRI while viewing facial images of their partner. Control images included a highly familiar acquaintance; a close, long-term friend; and a low-familiar person. Effects specific to the intensely loved, long-term partner were found in: (i) areas of the dopamine-rich reward and basal ganglia system, such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and dorsal striatum, consistent with results from early-stage romantic love studies; and (ii) several regions implicated in maternal attachment, such as the globus pallidus (GP), substantia nigra, Raphe nucleus, thalamus, insular cortex, anterior cingulate and posterior cingulate. Correlations of neural activity in regions of interest with widely used questionnaires showed: (i) VTA and caudate responses correlated with romantic love scores and inclusion of other in the self; (ii) GP responses correlated with friendship-based love scores; (iii) hypothalamus and posterior hippocampus responses correlated with sexual frequency; and (iv) caudate, septum/fornix, posterior cingulate and posterior hippocampus responses correlated with obsession. Overall, results suggest that for some individuals the reward-value associated with a long-term partner may be sustained, similar to new love, but also involves brain systems implicated in attachment and pair-bonding.
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 01/2011; 7(2):145-59. · 5.04 Impact Factor
  • Neural correlates of marital satisfaction and well-being: reward, empathy, and affect. B Acevedo, A Aron, H Fisher, L Brown . 2012. Clinical Neuropsychiatry 9 20-31.
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Early-stage romantic love can induce euphoria, is a cross-cultural phenomenon, and is possibly a developed form of a mammalian drive to pursue preferred mates. It has an important influence on social behaviors that have reproductive and genetic consequences. To determine which reward and motivation systems may be involved, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and studied 10 women and 7 men who were intensely "in love" from 1 to 17 mo. Participants alternately viewed a photograph of their beloved and a photograph of a familiar individual, interspersed with a distraction-attention task. Group activation specific to the beloved under the two control conditions occurred in dopamine-rich areas associated with mammalian reward and motivation, namely the right ventral tegmental area and the right postero-dorsal body and medial caudate nucleus. Activation in the left ventral tegmental area was correlated with facial attractiveness scores. Activation in the right anteromedial caudate was correlated with questionnaire scores that quantified intensity of romantic passion. In the left insula-putamen-globus pallidus, activation correlated with trait affect intensity. The results suggest that romantic love uses subcortical reward and motivation systems to focus on a specific individual, that limbic cortical regions process individual emotion factors, and that there is localization heterogeneity for reward functions in the human brain.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 08/2005; 94(1):327-37. · 3.30 Impact Factor

Full-text

View
238 Downloads
Available from
Sep 27, 2012