The Fascinating Science Behind Love at First Sight

Faith Xue

Love at first sight is hard to explain. Some people swear they’ve fallen prey to its mystical power (sometimes more than once), while others chalk it up to folklore and too many viewings of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo & Juliet (or reading Shakespeare’s original, though far less common). We tend to gravitate towards the latter category, being the doubting, scientific-minded realists we are, but recently, we came across a fascinating study from researcher Stephanie Cacioppo titled Neuroimaging of Love: fMRI Meta-Analysis Evidence toward New Perspectives in Sexual Medicine. Cacioppo (whose last name was Ortigue at the time) led a team of researchers who examined exactly what occurs in the brain when you fall in love and lust. Some crazy findings right off the bat? Twelve—yes, twelve—areas of your brain work together to release chemicals and hormones that induce the feeling of falling in love, all of which happens in just a fifth of a second, which elicits floating-on-cloud-nine feelings similar to that of euphoria-inducing drugs (though there are key differences, which we’ll explain later). Yeah, we’ll let you process that for a second.

Because we found the study and science behind love so fascinating, we stalked Dr. Cacioppo and asked her to explain everything in further detail for us. (You’re welcome.) Keep scrolling to find out the science behind falling in love!

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