Falling in Love? Blame the Anterior Insula (of Your Brain)

Who thinks about their brains when falling in love?  But a new study has found the actual part of the brain that makes decisions about whether we want to spend the rest of our lives with someone.

According to newswise.com, the finding, made in an examination of a 48-year-old man who suffered a stroke, provides the first causal clinical evidence that an area of the brain called the anterior insula “plays an instrumental role in love,” said UChicago neuroscientist Stephanie Cacioppo, lead author of the study.

"In this study, the patient made decisions normally about lust but showed slower reaction times when making decisions about love, in contrast to neurologically typical participants matched on age, gender and ethnicity," the Web site reports.

“This distinction has been interpreted to mean that desire is a relatively concrete representation of sensory experiences, while love is a more abstract representation of those experiences,” said Cacioppo, a research associate and assistant professor in psychology. The new data suggest that the posterior insula, which affects sensation and motor control, is implicated in feelings of lust or desire, while the anterior insula has a role in the more abstract representations involved in love.

So blame the brain when the person you thought you loved shows up with a step stool for Valentine's Day.




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