This is Your Brain on Love

Lindsay Shortliffe - Palo Alto Psychologist

Check out this interesting article by Diane Ackerman in the New York Times entitled, “The Brain on Love” (find it here).  It discusses the way that loving relationships can affect the brain’s wiring, and what the brain’s response to love looks like.  It takes a look at the way that love can ease stress, reduce the experience of pain, and lower blood pressure while also noting that interpersonal loss or rejection stimulates the same parts of the brain associated with physical pain.

For a fun look at what people’s brain’s do when they are experiencing love, check out “The Love Competition.”  A video made at the Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging where participants were interviewed about people in their life that they love and then given five minutes in an fMRI to “love as hard as they can.”  Participants were then compared on whose brains showed the most activity in areas associated with loving feelings.  The video does not go into detail about the neuroscience associated with love, but does provide an overview of the brain pathways involved and includes some touching stories from participants on how they have experienced love in their lives.  Can you guess who will win the love competition?

17 Responses to This is Your Brain on Love

  1. Hi Dr. Lindsay, we are related somehow! just wanted to let you know i read your post and found it interesting. I keep a blog on art therapy neurology and society, so this kind of thing is particularly interesting to me. -thanks.

    • Dr. Shortliffe says:

      Thanks for reading Tom! I get email updates from you on your artwork and have been interested in the way that you have been incorporating neurology and art therapy into your work. It is nice to discover we have some overlaps in our interests. I will need to take a look at your blog!

  2. Riane daSilva says:

    Hello Dr. Shortliffe, I am first cousins with Thomas Shortliffe. I believe that you and I are also somehow related (does anyone know how?). I am an artist (various media) living on a small gulf island in British Columbia (very ‘Californian’ here). I suffered a Non-Anuerysmal SubArachnoid Hemmorhage last June and have been immensely interested in how our brains work since that transformative experience. For several decades I have also been interested in the (mysterious?) way that people are connected with each other and with the natural world – even when there appears to be no discernible connection…somewhat like the way neuropathways connect in our brains. I just wanted to chime here, to notice this mysterious overlap of shared interest between the three of us who may be related (how is the current mystery). Also, I really enjoyed the “Love Competition” video and was not the least bit surprised by the winners.

    • Dr. Shortliffe says:

      Thanks for introducing yourself Riane! I’m glad you enjoyed the info and the video! I don’t know how we are all related, but I am glad we are getting connected and finding these commonalities.

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