So some important areas of the brain. We’ve already touched on the amygdala first. The amygdala is the center of your brain. It is not at the center. It’s at the base of your brain. It sits right above the brain stem. It’s considered part of your reptilian brain. It sits in your right hemisphere of your brain. Meaning, it controls your right hemisphere, which is your emotional hemisphere. Your amygdala is your fear receptor in your brain. It senses threat in the environment. As soon as the amygdala senses a threat it just goes boom stress, boom fear. That’s all it does. It doesn’t think. It’s all emotional. React, react, react. Fight, fight or freeze. Your amygdala has neuro circuitry, which runs all the way down the spinal cord to the intestines. Very important because your amygdala, part of your primal brain is a part of your reactive brain, and in times of high stress, the high stress overwhelms the thinking parts of your brain, which are the hippocampus and the orbital frontal cortex, and I’ll talk just about those in just a minute. It overwhelms the part that allows you to think in the midst of stress. It goes directly to the gut and causes a gut reaction, a gut feeling, butterflies, intuition, irritable bowel syndrome. No conscious cognitive thought. It just goes right to the gut and that’s that feeling when you go, “I just don’t have a very good feeling about him.” Or that room, “I just don’t like that room.” You don’t know what it is, but you just know you don’t like it. Or you have a stomachache. Oh my stomach hurts and all is you’re doing is focus on the pain because it’s all emotional in that moment. Oh my stomach. But in a very short period of time the thinking parts of your brain pick up. The hippocampus is short-term memory. It goes from being overwhelmed to start to trying to pick up a little bit to help you remember that all is you’ve had for breakfast were six Crispy Creams and a half a pot of coffee. That’s why your stomach’s aching. And isn’t it as soon as you make the connection, your stomach aches a little less because then you can breathe. Your orbital frontal cortex and your hippocampus are directly connected. They help you to calm down those outpourings of the amygdala. They help you to think clearly in the midst of stress so you can start to calm down and see clearly. Your orbital frontal cortex is your emotional control center in your brain. It’s called your executive control center for all your social and emotional relationships. It helps you negotiate the environment, negotiate relationships. It’s reading the environment, reading the environment. It helps you read facial expressions and body language and gestures and tone of voice. Your orbital frontal cortex allows you to do that, but it sits in your right hemisphere too. However, your orbital frontal cortex and your hippocampus control your left hemisphere, which is your thinking hemisphere. Very important because it goes back to that statement, stress causes confused and distorted thinking, because stress starts in your amygdala and in your gut, overwhelms the hippocampus and orbital frontal cortex because your amygdala controls that right hemisphere, and in that right hemisphere where does little areas sit, which controls your left hemisphere, because they are overwhelmed, they now communicate confused and distorted thinking and suppresses short-term memory. Do you see that? I doesn’t get too complicated in it, does it? It’s kind of simple. But I don’t want to make the brain just a some simplistic organ because there are billions of aspects to the brain, billions of chemicals, dendritic connections, billions. When one part of the brain becomes activated, the whole brain, the whole body becomes activated. What I want to do is just give you some primary areas, some areas that we know are connected to stress and social and emotional relationships. These are some specific areas, but the whole brain becomes activated. Your adrenal glands that create adrenalin, which is another primary stress hormone, which sits right above your kidneys in your gut area, so it’s just very important to consider when looking at children, considering children. Bruce Perry says that if you work with children and you don’t have a generalist understanding of the brain, you’re missing out on the whole spectrum of dynamics. And I probably said his name now about four times. As you can see, I enjoy and respect his work. You can learn more about Dr. Perry’s work by visiting childtraumaacademy.org. Lots of good stuff.
Hanipsych, neurobiology of love
Neurobiology of LoveNeurobiology of Love
Prof. Hani Hamed Dessoki, M.D.Psychiatry
Chairman of Psychiatry Department
Beni Suef University
Supervisor of Psychiatry Department
• Chemistry of love
• Bonding hormone
• Chemistry of Attraction
• Critical Areas of the
Brain for Love and
Responses of the whole organism, involving...
• physiological arousal (autonomic/hormonal)
• expressive behaviors (behavioral)
• conscious experience (cognitive)
useful as motivation for
moving away from what
one doesn't want
useful as motivation for
moving towards what
one does want
A Biological Purpose for Emotion?
• Signaling function (that we might take action)
• Provide strong impulse to take action
• Promote unique, stereotypical patterns of physiological
change and behavior
• Meaning Faith
• Purpose Hope
• Relationships Love
• Natural environment
• A higher power
• Supernatural forces
• Faith, love, hope, joy, forgiveness, compassion, and
mystical illumination are important limbic system
drivers of human flourishing
Vaillant GE. Spiritual Evolution: how we are wired for faith, hope and love.
Broadway books, New York. 2008.
• Are parasympathetic and soothing as opposed to the
negative emotions which are sympathetic and arousing
• Are long-term and reach out
• Negative emotions are immediate and protective
• Positive emotions create relational bonds which build
community rather than the negative emotions which
protect the immediate individual
Mirror neurons play a major explanatory
role in the understanding of a number of
human features, from imitation to empathy,
and language learning. It has also been
claimed that damages in these cerebral
structures can be responsible for mental
deficits such as autism.
Love is a story
• How do they form?
• Stories come from past experiences, thoughts, and feelings about
• Stories can and do change, but new stories start with old stories
• Stories are affected by cultural norms
Chemistry Of Love
• Attraction, love and relationships are fueled by actual
• Chemicals responsible for our behavior in love and
relationships belong to the class of "neurochemicals",
compounds forming largely in the brain and participating
in neural activity.
• First attraction, first "sparks" in the air followed by falling
in love are caused by combination of three
neurochemicals: phenylethylamine, norepinephrine and
• Later stages of long relationships are guiding by another
two: oxytocin and serotonin.
- Phenylethylamine (PEA), acts as a releasing
agent of norepinephrine and dopamine.
- The first attraction causes us to produce more
PEA, which results in those dizzying feelings
associated with romantic love.
- Large quantities of PEA increase both physical and
emotional energy and at the same time release
• What makes us feel attracted to another person?
• propinquity (geographical closeness)
• complementarity (opposites attract)
• similarity (birds of a feather…)
• income, profession, status, power (especially for men)
• common values: long term
Chemistry of attraction:
• Arousal: phenylethylamine (PEA)
• Touch: endorphins
• Touch: oxytocin
• Arousal short lived: 6-24 months
• Depletion of neurochemicals, wear and tear
• Some people become addicted: change partners often
The Love Drug
• Indeed, "love is a drug," says Helen Fisher, an
anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of
Anatomy of Love.
• According to Dr. Fisher, "the ventral tegmental area is a
clump of cells that makes dopamine, a natural stimulant,
and sends it out to many brain religions when one is in
• This is the same region affected when you feel the rush
of cocaine." Phenylethylamine produces the
neurochemical dopamine, and contributes to the
pleasurable, on-top-of-the-world feeling that attraction
Chemistry of attraction:
• PEA (phenylethylamine):
• called “the molecule of love”
• amphetamine-like substance
• produced in brain capillaries (endothelium) and in
• low PEA levels associated with depression
• some depressions successfully treated with PEA
• some people become addicted to the PEA “high”
and change partners frequently to get it, as it’s
higher early in a relationship
Knowledge about the oxytocin (OT) system in the brain has increased
greatly over the past decade.
Although this neuropeptide is best known for its peripheral effects,
direct modulation of central nervous system (CNS) areas has also
been implicated in OT’s actions, which include a major role in a wide
range of affiliative behaviors.
Often referred to as the “social bonding” hormone, speculations
are being made as to its applications and potential uses in enhancing
OT is a nine amino acid peptide, synthesized primarily in the
supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei (SON and PVN) of the
Neurons in both the SON and PVN project to the posterior pituitary
gland, where OT is released into the bloodstream in response to
specific physiological events (e.g., sexual stimulation, nursing, stress)
and exerts multiple peripheral effects.
The few available studies of OT fiber staining in
human brain suggest a generally similar pattern to
the receptor mapping, with fibers present in the
basal forebrain (e.g., septal nucleus, diagonal
band of Broca, bed nucleus of the stria
terminalis) and brainstem, but not in amygdala or
Alterations in the OT system have been implicated in several
Multiple types of psychopathology manifest in deficits in social
functioning, including inability to maintain interpersonal relationships
and engage in socially appropriate behavior.
The OT system may influence the efficacy of psychotherapy, as
research has repeatedly shown that the therapeutic relationship is one
of the largest predictors of therapeutic change.
OT may also have value as a therapeutic intervention.
Oxytocine and Relationship
Critical areas of the brain for love and
Adrenal Glands Spinal Cord
(Fight, Flight, or
An Interpersonal Neurobiology
- Daniel Siegel
Convergence of neurobiology and attachment theory
• Human connections within relationships
shape the neural connections of the brain from which
the mind emerges.
“Spirituality simply means the direct experience of
something special in life and living.”
Selecting a Partner
• Similar values, backgrounds, and life goals are
correlated with marital success
• Teen marriages fail at a higher rate than do marriages of
people in their 20s or 30s
• Higher education is associated with marital stability