The chosen one of our heart, the other half of ourselves

Ihe month of February has become the month of love… Valentine’s Day obliges! Neuroscientists are not left out and have described a veritable chemical storm involving oxytocin, vasopressin, cortisol, serotonin, dopamine and testosterone when we are in love. At the same time, this particular state activates a vast network including the caudate nucleus, the putamen, the ventral tegmental area, the insula, the amygdala, the cingulate cortex, the globus pallidus, the substantia nigra, the raphe nuclei, the cerebellum as well as the nucleus accumbens, the thalamus and various cortical regions…!

To believe that a good part of our brain is concerned with love with a capital A! Sandra Langeslag from the University of Missouri very recently reported that, in all cultures, two hundred milliseconds after the presentation of visual or verbal information about the loved one, our attention is captured in a lasting and specific way! Our other half therefore has a special status among the thousands of pieces of information that reach our brain. This is also confirmed by the recent article by Virginie Quintard and his colleagues from the University of Poitiers.

These researchers tested 56 participants, including 28 women. The participants spent the experience two by two, with a friend or with the chosen one of their heart. Each participant in the pair was installed in an adjacent room, and each screen was connected to the same computer. A simple task was proposed: respond to a yellow or blue shape appearing on the right or left of the screen. Each subject was placed on the right side of the screen and they had to respond when the blue target appeared by pressing a button with their right hand. When the yellow target was presented, he did not have to answer and knew that it was then his partner, located on the left of his screen, who answered with the left hand.

The strength of love

Importantly, each subject performed the experiment twice: once in pairs with their lover and once with their friend. It is known that, in this type of task, all subjects are faster to respond to a target when they respond with the hand on the same side as the target on the screen. For example, the subject who responds with his right hand will react faster when the target appears on the right than when it appears on the left. This effect, known as the Simon effect, normally occurs when we use both hands to respond.

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