February 14, 2014
Deep Brain Region Controls How Quickly We Make Decisions About Love
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The research is the first to provide causal clinical evidence that an area of the brain known as the anterior insula plays an instrumental role in love.
“The current work makes it possible to disentangle love from other biological drives,” the authors wrote. "Such studies could also help researchers examine feelings of love by studying neurological activity rather than subjective questionnaires.”
The 48-year-old patient made decisions normally about lust but showed slower reaction times when making decision about love when compared to a typical patient matched on age, sex and ethnicity.
“This distinction has been interpreted to mean that desire is a relatively concrete representation of sensory experiences, while love is a more abstract representation of those experiences,” Stephanie Cacioppo, lead author of the study and a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, said in a statement.
During the study, the patient and the control group of seven other males were shown 40 photographs at random of attractive, young women dressed in appealing dresses. They were asked whether these women were objects of sexual desire or love. The patient with a damaged anterior insula from the stroke showed a much slower response when asked if the women in the photos could be objects of love.
“We reasoned that if the anterior insula was the origin of the love response, we would find evidence for that in brain scans of someone whose anterior insula was damaged,” Cacioppo said in a statement.
The findings suggest that the posterior insula is implicated in feelings of lust or disease, while the anterior insula has a role in the more abstract representations involved in love.