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ID 2385

The Neurobiology of Love

Description:
Doctor Larry Young discusses that he believes there is a biological basis to love.
Transcript:
So many people ask is there a chemical or genetic basis to human love, and I certainly believe there is. The reason I believe so is from the work that we’ve done in prairie voles on pair bonding, which I’m not going to say that pair bonding is love, but the behavioral outcome is very similar. It involves the reward circuitry as I said in prairie voles. People have done brain imaging in humans thinking about their loved ones, and you have very similar circuits activated. In many cases, studies in animals have shown that processes that occur in animals also occur in humans using parallel systems. For example, cocaine acts the same in a rat as it does in a human. So, I really believe that the mechanisms that we’re tapping into in voles, many of those may also be responsible for those feeling that we have when we’re with a loved one; the elation, the excitement, dopamine is going to be involved there and we know that dopamine is released in the brain during interactions like that. So I’m very confident that emotions such as love are really the byproduct of chemical reactions that happen in our brain where certain neurotransmitter molecules activating receptors in certain brain circuits that activate an emotional feeling. One of those emotional feelings that we know to be very human is love. Love happens between partners, but also between parents and their offspring, offspring and their parents and I think that there’s surely a biological mechanism to that.
Keywords:
love, biology, dopamine, bonding, bond, oxytocin, social, receptor, reinforcement, larry, young,
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Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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