The San Jose Mercury News' Sandeep Ravindran revisits today Stanford research showing that passionate feelings of love can serve as a painkiller of sorts. In an imaging study published last fall, participants subjected to "a very intense, acute pain experience" felt less pain when looking at a picture of their significant other. And their love-induced pain relief was associated with the activation of areas of the brain that control rewarding experiences.
As the piece describes, the work could help researchers better understand the neural systems of pain and develop new treatments. Plus:
Studying the brains of people in love could also help [experts] understand relationships. And the researchers plan to study other kinds of love, such as maternal love or the love of people in long-term relationships.
But, Mackey said, he didn't want to make the experience of love too clinical.
"Our hope," he said, "is not to diminish the experience of love, or the wonderful attributes of love, but instead to provide a little better understanding of the how and why."