The Neurobiological Basis of Love : A Meta-Analysis of Human Functional Neuroimaging Studies of Maternal and Passionate Love

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Author(s)

  • Hsuan-Chu Shih
  • Mu-En Kuo
  • Changwei W. Wu
  • Yi-Ping Chao
  • Chih-Mao Huang

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Article number830
Journal / PublicationBrain Sciences
Volume12
Issue number7
Online published26 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Link(s)

Abstract

Maternal and passionate love are both crucial for reproduction and involve attachment behaviors with high rewards. Neurobiological studies of attachment in animal and human neuroimaging studies have suggested that the coordination of oxytocinergic and vasopressinergic pathways, coupled with the dopaminergic reward system, contribute to the formation and maintenance of maternal and passionate love. In the present study, we carried out a quantitative meta-analysis of human neuroimaging to identify common and dissociable neural substrates associated with maternal and passionate love, using the activation likelihood estimation (ALE) approach. The ALE results showed significant activation of the brain regions in the left ventral tegmental area (VTA), right thalamus, left substantia nigra, and the left putamen for maternal love, but in the bilateral VTA for passionate love. The meta-analytic neuroimaging evidence suggests the greater involvement of cognitive–affective regulation in maternal attachment and the greater desire to combine liking and wanting in romantic love behaviors. The conjunction analysis highlights the functional convergence of the VTA across the two types of human love, indicating a shared neurobiological mechanism of maternal and passionate love with evolutionary roots. Our findings suggest that the processing of both maternal and passionate love involve the affective and motivational regulation associated with dopaminergic systems; our neuroimaging evidence supports the notion that maternal and passionate love share a common evolutionary origin and neurobiological basis in the human brain.

Research Area(s)

  • human functional neuroimaging, meta-analysis, maternal love, passionate love, ventral tegmental area (VTA);, activation likelihood estimation (ALE)

Citation Format(s)

The Neurobiological Basis of Love : A Meta-Analysis of Human Functional Neuroimaging Studies of Maternal and Passionate Love. / Shih, Hsuan-Chu ; Kuo , Mu-En; Wu, Changwei W.; Chao, Yi-Ping ; Huang, Hsu-Wen; Huang, Chih-Mao.

In: Brain Sciences, Vol. 12, No. 7, 830, 07.2022.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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