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February 2013 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Healthy Living

Explaining love through science

The science of love

Love protects us from loneliness, poor health, and even helps us live longer. This month, while love is in the air and people are doing their best to find and keep love, could their efforts be in vain?

After all, you can date as much as you like and meet a whole lot of people, but if the chemistry just is not there, you cannot force the attraction.

Maternal love, of course, is a whole other story. It’s primitive and fierce. That unique bond between mother and child does not end with delivery. In fact, the change is life-lasting. Some moms feel that instinctively from the get-go. However, the change is not only emotional, it’s biological. There is a real science behind the concept of love.

Here are three distinct ways love can be explained through science:

Pregnancy

Research performed by psychologist Laura M. Glynn of Chapman University and Curt A. Sandman at the University of California proposes that pregnancy hormones help prepare a woman’s brain for the stresses of motherhood. This includes everything from giving her more patience and becoming more resilient to stress, to becoming fine-tuned to her baby’s needs.

Brain change

During pregnancy, just as the mom passes oxygen and nutrients to her baby via the placenta, it seems that a baby can pass DNA to his mother. Recent research out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle has discovered that male DNA has been found in the brains of mothers who have given birth to boys. This strange phenomenon is also believed to ward off certain types of cancer, such as bowel and skin cancer. One of the oldest women studied was a 93-year-old woman who was found to have male DNA in her brain after death.

Romantic love

When talking about romantic love, it is simply like a drug — some say it’s addictive. A study from the State University of New York at Stony Brook suggests you can crave the person you fall in love with much in the same way you would a drug. Author of the study, psychologist Arthur Aron, says the change occurs in the brain, not the heart.

“Intense passionate love uses the same system in the brain that gets activated when a person is addicted to drugs,” he explains.

Whether we see love as purely emotional, wholly scientific, or a happy blend of both, love is a wonderful thing to have in our lives and a reason for celebration.

Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babble.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @DanniSullWriter, or on her blog, Just Write Mom.

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