Love Makes Us More Intelligent, According to Neuroscience

June 16, 2020
Some researchers concluded that love makes us more intelligent. This is because our brains have a "love neural network" and a particular biochemistry that activates and increases a series of cognitive functions.

People often say that, when a person falls in love, they lose their mind in one way or another. Well, actually, neuroscience has proven that the opposite is true! Love makes us more intelligent<t!

When a person’s in love, several things change in their brain and physiology. This experience is very special, precisely because of that.

Anyone who’s in love, particularly in the early part of the relationship, feels more awake and emotionally connected to the world. Also, they’re more empathetic and compassionate.

The fact is that love makes us better human beings. However, in addition to that, neuroscience discovered that love makes us smarter as well. Why? The chemistry of love resides primarily in the brain, and the transformation that falling in love entails also reaches areas that perform cognitive functions.

“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”

-Pablo Neruda-

A couple hugging.

Love makes us more intelligent

In order to reach the conclusion that love makes us smarter, a group of researchers from the University of Chicago scanned the brains of several people who were in love. These images, along with other tests, showed that people who love also think faster, perceive other people’s ideas and behaviors more clearly, and are also more creative.

To reach these conclusions, the researchers used electrodes. They placed the electrodes on the heads of the participants and then showed them a series of photographs, including one of their partner. In addition, they also told them different names, including their partner’s name.

Then, the researchers discovered that 12 brain areas activated when these people saw their loved one or heard their name. One of the areas that showed particularly intense activity was the angular gyrus, one of the regions traditionally associated with abstract thinking and creativity. In fact, this activity didn’t stop when participants saw pictures of other people or heard other names.

“Losing your mind”

The results of the study were quite conclusive. Thus, you don’t “lose your mind” when you fall in love. In fact, love really does seem to make us more intelligent.

In this regard, the study researchers compare the angular gyrus to a small robot that can activate a complex neural network, since this area is highly connected to other brain areas.

The angular gyrus plays a role in functions such as number and language processing, as well as highly complex autobiographical data. This means that, along with love, we also acquire a special capacity to understand our own behaviors in a better way. This happens at a deeper level than in normal situations.

This thought and perception increase make people who are in love more capable of understanding other people’s behaviors on a deeper level. Thus, they perceive other people’s characteristics more effectively and recognize their feelings in a better way. That’s why researchers have concluded that loving makes us better people as well.

A couple in love.

Beyond the initial crush

It’s clear that all these brain activations and reactions are more intense during the infatuation stage. However, another study found that the same effects could be observed later on in the relationship. As long as love was present, there were very real benefits, even if that love wasn’t as effervescent as at the beginning.

A University of California study confirmed this. This time, the researchers studied a number of couples who’d been together for an average of 21.4 years. What these couples had in common was they all still claimed to be in love with their respective partners. The researchers found that their brains reacted similarly to the couples we mentioned above, who had recently fallen in love.

One particular observation was an increased amount of dopamine in their brains. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has beneficial effects on a person’s mood and also influences cognitive activity. Basically, it helps to regulate and modulate information flows. In this regard, a dopamine deficit leads to memory, attention, and problem-solving difficulties.

Based on all this evidence, we can reach the conclusion that love indeed makes us more intelligent. Such intelligence not only applies to strictly cognitive matters but also encompasses the broader world of emotional intelligence.

Lomar, J. (2017). La Inteligencia del Amor: Un viaje del temor al Amor. Borealis.