First Brain Map of Love and Desire

First Brain Map of Love and Desire

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Thanks to modern science, we know that love lives in the brain, not in the heart. But where in the brain is it — and is it in the same place as sexual desire? A recent international study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine is the first to draw an exact map of these intimately linked feelings. The researchers found that that two brain structures in particular, the insula and the striatum, are responsible for tracking the progression from sexual desire to love.

Love and sexual desire activate different areas of the striatum. The area activated by sexual desire is usually activated by things that are inherently pleasurable, such as sex or food. The area activated by love is involved in the process of conditioning by which things paired with reward or pleasure are given inherent value. That is, as feelings of sexual desire develop into love, they are processed in a different place in the striatum

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