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Decoded: What separates love from lust

Posted on Feb 15 2014 | IANS

Chicago, Feb 15 : Do you know why your mind wavers between an intense and long-term longing for opposite sex and short-term, pleasurable goals at times?

Scientists have discovered a key area in the brain of a neurological patient that helps you choose between love and lust.

"A region deep inside the brain called the anterior insula plays an instrumental role in love," said neuroscientist Stephanie Cacioppo at University of Chicago.

In the study, the patient made decisions normally about lust but showed slower reaction times when making decisions about love - in contrast to neurologically typical participants matched on age, gender and ethnicity.

The new data suggest that the posterior insula - that affects sensation and motor control - is implicated in feelings of lust or desire, while the anterior insula has a role in the more abstract representations involved in love.

"We reasoned that if the anterior insula was the origin of the love response, we would find evidence for that in brain scans of someone whose anterior insula was damaged," Cacioppo added.

The patient and the control group were shown 40 photographs at random of attractive, young women dressed in appealing, short and long dresses.

They were asked whether these women were objects of sexual desire or love.

The patient with the damaged anterior insula showed a much slower response when asked if the women in the photos could be objects of love.

The current work makes it possible to disentangle love from other biological drives like lust, said the study published in the journal Current Trends in Neurology.

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