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Ke$ha's right: Study suggests love and drug addiction activate same regions of brain

brokenheart.jpgRaunch-pop diva Ke$ha is all about a sort of calculated vacuity, but she may have inadvertently stumbled on some real meaning in her lyrics:

I don't care what people say/
The rush is worth the price I pay/
I get so high when you're with me/
But crash and crave you when you are away/
Because your love, your love, your love is my drug (ad nauseam)

Indeed, a recent fMRI study of individuals still infatuated with a "rejecting" partner showed that areas of the brain associated with romantic love are the same ones involved in drug addiction. Romantic love, the researchers concluded, "is a goal-oriented motivation state rather than a specific emotion," noting that "brain imaging showed some similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving:"

"Romantic rejection is a major cause of suicides and depression. We have known very little about it. Understanding the neural systems involved is extremely important both for advancing our basic knowledge of intense romantic love in general and of response to rejection in particular," said Dr. Aron. "The specific findings are significant because they tell us that the basic patterns seen in previous studies of happy love share key elements with love under these circumstances; they also tell us that what is unique to romantic rejection includes elements that are very much like craving for cocaine."

Subjects viewing photographs of "rejecters" showed increased activity in the ventral (lower) area of the mid-brain (known to be associated with feelings of romantic love); the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex, which are involved in the dopaminergic reward system that shapes craving and addiction; and the insular cortex and the anterior cingulate, which are associated with physical pain and distress.

Photo by suez92

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