Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice that “love is blind and lovers cannot see.” More than 400 years later, brain imaging has offered some scientific support to that iambic verse.
Looking at a brain in love is like watching a neurological fireworks display.
The ventral tegmental area and ventral striatum, nestled in the center of the brain, light up excitedly as the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine spring into action, causing a person to have short attention spans, feel giddiness and crave the object of her desire.
A 2005 study by Rutgers University biological anthropologist Helen Fisher and colleagues examined the fMRI brain scans of 17 men and women who reported being truly, madly in love. Each of the images showed the same activity in the brain’s reward system as that which occurs in the brain of a cocaine addict.
What’s more, the love-struck participants could readily tick off traits or characteristics they didn’t particularly like about their beloveds, but under the influence of pleasure-enhancing dopamine and other monoamines, they quickly overlook those faults.