Can you mix a love potion?

Published on August 25th, 2011
Can you mix a love potion?

Explaining romantic love through biology is quite a new scientific field but researchers have already identified four important areas of the brain that are involved in all stages of romance.

According to, the four – the ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens (Nacc), ventral pallidum and raphe nucleus – are tiny but very active. They form part of the reward circuit for a number of feelings and behaviours.

The VTA is a collection of neurons, mainly dopaminergic and GABAergic, located in the mid-brain, and it sends out dopamine to enhance the reward sensation.

The NAcc is a group of mostly GABAergic neurons in the forebrain and is part of the “pleasure centre”.

The ventral pallidum is targeted by vasopressin, a hormone that influences pair-bonding (finding and connecting with a suitable mate), while the raphe nucleus, located in the brain stem, and secretes calming serotonin.

If all of these are working in harmony, there is a much greater chance that you will experience that dizzying sensation known as being madly in love. But scientists don’t think they will ever make a chemical pill that you can swallow to fall in love. Love is more than just chemical reactions – there are cultural and social influences that also govern your choice of partner, as well as your own emotions.

Pic credit: tigger-superman

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