Desire has a “biological fingerprint” left by dopamine

Attraction, desire and love are mediated by brain neurotransmitters. In fact, the process of falling in love is completely chemical: our body begins to secrete chemical compounds such as dopamine, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, oxytocin or serotonin in industrial quantities. And depending on the stage we are going through it goes from one to the other. These substances are responsible for making us feel excitement, happiness, intimacy, intensity and the whole roller coaster of emotions associated with love.

One of these is neurotransmitter. The key to keeping the bond alive, and it’s dopamine, This has been demonstrated by researchers University of Colorado at Boulder (United States), Through an experiment with prairie voles, animals similar to humans because they choose monogamous mates – only 3 to 5% of mammals do so.

“What we found is basically a The biological signature of desire helps us explain why we want to be with some people more than others,” The main author declares Zoe Donaldson, According to EP, associate professor of behavioral neuroscience at CU Boulder. In particular, the work of Donaldson, who publishes the magazine current biology, I was looking to gain new knowledge about What happens inside the human brain to make intimate relationships possible And when those bonds are broken, how do we overcome it, neurochemically speaking.

For the study, scientists used cutting-edge neuroimaging technology to measure in real time what happens in the brain when a vole tries to reach its mate. In one scenario, Voll had to press a lever to open the door to the room where his partner was. In the second, he had to jump the fence to get to that reunion. Meanwhile, a tiny fiber-optic sensor tracked activity, millisecond by millisecond, in the animal’s nucleus accumbens, the area of ​​the brain responsible for managing the reward circuit.

Every time the sensor detects a burst of dopamine, “it flashes like a glow stick,” explains Anne Pierce, another researcher. “When the voles pushed a lever or climbed a wall to see their partner, the fibers fired like a delirium,” says the expert. “And the party continued as they cuddled and sniffed at each other. Conversely, when there’s a random vole on the other side of that door or wall, the glow stick dims,” ​​he adds.

“As human beings, our entire social world is fundamentally defined by dVarying degrees of selective willingness to interact with different people“Whether it’s your romantic partner or your close friend,” says Donaldson. This is what this research shows “Some people leave a unique chemical imprint on our brain that leads us to maintain these bonds over time.”

In the human world, we can give the example of the difference in motivation between going to dinner with a new flirt, or lover, versus going to dinner with a casual acquaintance from work, rather than braving a traffic jam. In the first case, an “avalanche” of dopamine will be generated in our brain, which, in the second case, will be nothing more than a torrent.

Functionally, this suggests that dopamine is not only really important in motivating us to seek out our mates, but it’s actually More dopamine flows through our reward centers when we are with our partner than when we are with a stranger.

Helps recover from breakup

In another experiment, vole pairs were kept apart for four weeks, which was enough for the voles to find another mate in the wild. When they met they missed each other, but His typical dopamine surge had almost disappeared. In short, that trace of desire had disappeared. As far as his mind was concerned, his former companion was indistinguishable from any other being. “We think of it as a A reset occurs within the brain that allows the animal to continue and potentially form a new bond,” Donaldson says.

This could be good news for humans who have gone through a painful breakup or even lost their spouse, it suggests. The brain has a built-in mechanism to protect us from endless unrequited love.

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