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For Valentine's Day: A look at romantic love on Life Lines podcast

BETHESDA, Md. (Feb. 11, 2009) − Love is usually associated with the heart: Valentine's Day chocolates, for example, often come in a (stylized) heart-shaped box. But recent studies by neuroscientists show that love is actually very much in our heads.

Dr. Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, has studied the brain during various stages of romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). She describes these studies in the most recent episode of the APS podcast, Life Lines (

The episode is entitled Where Love Begins: In the Brain and can be found by clicking here or by clicking on Episode 18 at

This audio podcast recounts the portions of the brain that are active for people who are:

  • newly in love
  • recently been rejected by a lover (unhappily in love)
  • in a longterm romantic relationship

Among Dr. Brown's findings that you can hear in this interview:

  • romantic love appears to be a drive, rather than an emotion
  • chocolate activates the same area of the brain that is activated during romantic love
  • the areas of the brain that are activated by romantic love overlap with areas of the brain that are active when people feel the rush of cocaine
  • people in longterm relationships who report they are still very much in love showed activity in the same area of the brain activated during early-stage romantic love

There is also some research that suggests that couples that do new and challenging things together tend to keep their relationships fresher and more exciting. Please listen to this and other episodes at


Contact: Christine Guilfoy
American Physiological Society

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