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Romantic Love Affects Your Brain Like a Drug

Study Shows a Link Between Intense Feelings of Love and Reward Areas of the Brain

Targeted Pain Treatments continued...

The brain imaging showed that both love and distraction reduced pain, but in different ways.

When distracted, the brain pathway affecting the sensation of pain was mostly centered in the higher, cortical part of the brain, while the impact of love was on the brain’s dopamine-related reward center.

The study appears online today in the publication PLoS One.

Aron and Mackey agree the findings show the potential for more targeted approaches to pain relief that may or may not involve drugs.

Mackey says the way we manage pain today will be considered the Dark Ages by future generations.

“Right now we use antidepressants, antiseizure drugs, and cardiac arrhythmia drugs to treat pain in patients who don’t have seizures or arrhythmias and may not even be depressed,” he says. “The hope is that in the future we will develop targeted treatments that specifically address the abnormal neural systems involved in pain.”


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