The heart has little to do with falling in love as is widely believed, if new scientific findings are anything to go by.
New evidence indicates that even the popular representation of love by a symbol of the heart, sometimes pierced by an arrow, may have been off the mark.
And so have expressions like “heartbroken” and “heartache”.
Using modern medical imaging technology, researchers reveal that when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain are involved producing several euphoria-inducing chemicals.
Researchers at Syracuse University now say they have finally brought to an end the debate on whether it is the heart or the brain that falls in love. And their evidence appears to point at the brain.
But this has much more deeper implication than just for romantics.
The researchers say the findings could have major implications in the treatment of mental illnesses and nervous disorders because when love does not work it can lead to emotional stress and depression.
By identifying the parts of the brain stimulated by love, doctors and therapists can better understand the pains of love-sick patients, says a statement posted on the Syracuse University website.
The study also shows different parts of the brain fall for love.
For example, unconditional love, such as that between a mother and a child, is sparked by the common and different brain areas, including the middle portion. If these areas are damaged or not working properly, it may lead to a lack or unstable parental love and hence a dysfunctional family.
But romantics will be both happy and worried to learn that passionate love is sparked by the reward part of the brain. Happy because this area is associated with intelligence and knowledge, but also a cause for worry since it is also associated with addiction.
This poses the question whether love can be addictive. The answer is yes, according to studies.
An earlier study at the University College, London, scanned the brains of students who said they were madly in love. It looked at their patterns of brain activity.
They found that parts of the brain that are love-bitten include the one responsible for gut feelings, and the ones which generate the euphoria induced by drugs such as cocaine.