TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

How does the brain know the difference between romantic love and other forms of love?

Helen Fisher talks about romantic love and how dopamine is the chemical responsible for feeling this type of love. But how does the brain differentiate between romantic love and other forms of love? What chemicals are involved?

Share:
  • Feb 28 2014: Oxytocin leads to emotional bonding. Sexual attraction, (testosterone/progesterone), can lead to the release of oxytocin and dopamine, (bonding and pleasure/addiction). Orgasm releases larger amounts of both. You probably don't want to get into the complex world of limbic, hypothalmic and associative center feedback systems, but then your living in it, so hey, enjoy...
  • Feb 27 2014: Love is wanting someone in your life. A crush is wanting to have children with somebody. Romantic love, when you fancy each other, when you both want to make babies, triggers hormones which make you feel really good when together. This is nature's way of creating the bond which keeps the bloke around and providing for the wife and kids even when she has lost interest in sex and he has lost interest in the kids. Because it is boring at the top of the food chain.
  • Feb 27 2014: Dopamine is the reward Chemical. Does dopamine is released after Love happens or before Love Happens ?

    In electric fan electromagnetic field is produced which is responsible for the motion of the rotor of the fan.

    Now the question is Does Electromagnetic Field is produce before Supplying Electricity or After Supplying Electricity ?

    What happens when two people meet at time t0 . Does dopamine is released whenever anyone sees anyone of opposite sex. If this is true then we all will fall in Love every time and with everyone.
  • thumb
    Feb 26 2014: I hope my field of Psychology could shed light on your question. We still don't know what love really is, whether we speak of it biologically, psychologically, or spiritually. We still have no definition for it and interpretation as to the origin or nature of love are as many as the fields of science that discuss it. The research had only established that people in 'love' have a higher incidence of dopamine in their brains, a known neurotransmitter for 'happiness'. Also, a heart break is also shown to be one of the greatest pains that could possibly be felt as per shown by MRI. Another research has equated the amount of dopamine when someone is in love is about the same as winning about 700,000 dollars in a lottery. As to the nature of love, like your question , how does the brain know the difference? The researchers only assumed that it is romantic love that is causing the increase in dopamine due to it correlating with the self reported feelings of the participants, and they only made a distinction because there is a decrease in dopamine in couples who have been together in several years. These are assumptions since dopamine has been shown to increase with other causes, and naturally subsides over time. Also, the brain has been shown to develop a resistance to the same dopamine inducing stimulus as it recurs, an explanation other researchers point out, as to why people become addicted to chemicals that produce such effects. As to the theoretical side of things, romantic love or other forms of love has a lot of different explanations depending on your point of view. It generally boils down to your own interpretation of the feelings you experience as to whether it is love or not. As such, common dating practices like watching fireworks or a scary movie, though these practices are shown to increase dopamine on their own, are used to create the illusion that the couple are feeling more 'happy' because they are in love. Hope this helped! Cheers!
  • thumb
    Feb 24 2014: I don't think the brain knows anything. It's just a body organ with, yes, chemicals. I don't want to change the topic but it is our mind that feels and has the love.
    Our brain is 'just' the receiver to connect mind and body.

    Love is a spiritual substance.
    • Feb 25 2014: I disagree. Love is perceived to be a spiritual substance but biologically speaking it is nothing more than chemical reactions taking place in our brain and body. Your statement is best saved for a more philosophical debate.
      • thumb
        Feb 25 2014: Yes Prescilla, it was kind of a reply to "How does the brain know.." which I have a feeling is the reason why your question has not been inundated with replies. Another recent discussion was whether the mind and brain are one and the same.

        Noticed that I should have said "Our brain" instead of "Our mind" I'll change that.

        All the best.

        .