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Romantic Love: An fMRI Study of a Neural Mechanism for Mate Choice Yan Lee (JoJo) Lilly Zhang Tin Poon (Tina)

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Presentation on theme: "Romantic Love: An fMRI Study of a Neural Mechanism for Mate Choice Yan Lee (JoJo) Lilly Zhang Tin Poon (Tina)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Romantic Love: An fMRI Study of a Neural Mechanism for Mate Choice Yan Lee (JoJo) Lilly Zhang Tin Poon (Tina)

2 General Question Addressed in This Paper Which specific brain system is associated with courtship attraction?

3 Why is this question interesting A primary aspect of reproduction Brain mechanisms that are involved in a relationship are largely unknown Love is a cross-cultural universal experience Love is primarily a motivation system Love leads to various emotions.

4 What specific hypothesis was the study supposed to address? Hypothesis 1: romantic love would involve subcortical dopaminergic pathways that mediate reward Hypothesis 2: romantic love would involve neural pathways associated with goal-directed behaviors

5 Age: Duration: 1-17 months being in love Prescanning orally interview Passionate Love Scale which measures several traits commonly associated with romantic love (Cronbachs alpha for questionnaire reliability= 0.81)

6 Study of Romantic Love by fMRI There are 4 Tasks 1- Photo of the beloved is shown (30s) 2- Countback distraction (40s) 3- Neutral stimulus (30s) 4- Similar countback task (20s) *Procedures repeated for 6 times

7 Results Activation in the right ventral tegmental area (VTA), caudate nucleus in the right medial and posterodosal body VTA= reward system VTA sends projections to the caudate nucleus Hypotheses 1 and 2 are supported Those who self-reported higher levels of romantic love also showed greater activation in the right anteromedial caudate body

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9 Important Things about Romantic Love Romantic love may be a primary motivation system – Focus on specific reward Romantic love is distinct from sex drive – fMRI studies show activation in different brain regions

10 Bartels and Zeki (2000;2004) Investigated brain activity in 17 men and women who had been in love for longer duration (8-17 months) Results Same as study by Fisher and Aron Also found activity in the anterior cingulate, mid-insular cortex and posterior cingulate cortex Also showed increased activity in the ventral pallidum

11 Mate choice is dynamic: it changes across time

12 Cont. Based on a study of Prairie Voles Prairie voles show increased activity in the ventral pallidum They form a distinct preference for partners The injection of dopamine agonist can alter the female preference of her mate

13 Conclusion Reward regions using dopamine are activated during feelings of romantic love

14 More Money= More Love? – A study by Knutson, both the right anteromedial caudate body and the monetary reward region are activated when people are in love Activation of VTA and caudate nucleus in early stage romantic love may consist of general arousal

15 Improvement There may be bias in self-report fMRI study cannot show the causation of mate-choice Should have included a neutral image of the brain and a fMRI image of being in love

16 Whats Next? The more wealthy the partner is, the more you love? Will dopamine resolve hatred?

17 Reference Fisher H, Aron A, Brown L Romantic Love: An fMRI Study of a Neural Mechanism for Mate Choice


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