Monday, July 9, 2012

Love makes the world go 'round

'A General Theory of Love' is turning into a bit of comfort-reading these days. I tend to skim through chapters right before I go to sleep. For a neurobiology book, it's a fairly romantic read.

I was reading it right now and remembered how much I'd enjoyed this idea of limbic resonance the first time that I read it. Our limbic systems which are sort of the most primitive and emotional parts of our brain, are not exactly information-sponges. As the book puts it, they don't pick up facts as rapidly as the neocortex does.

The book postulates that the limbic system is capable of something rather profound, however. That it enables us to share deep emotional states and is responsible for our capacity to form non-verbal connections with other members of our species which are in large part responsible for our elaborate social behaviour. And this leads not just to creating the capacity for empathy but in some cases it lays the basis for the bonds of companionship since it allows 'our systems to synchronise with each other through limbic revision'.

All in all, apparently love rewires the brain by changing its chemistry. And to adopt the book's guileless and somewhat mushy tone, 'In any relationship, one mind revises the other; one heart changes its partner. This astounding legacy of our mammalian brains is limbic revision : the power to remodel the emotional parts of the people we love as our Attractors activate certain neural pathways and the brain's inexorable memory mechanism reinforces them.'

What all that means is that who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.

It rarely happens that a popular science book ends up saying the same thing as your favourite Jane Austen novel. But when it does, you can't help grinning like a fool as you jump out of bed to type it onto your blog.

8 comments:

Kshipra said...

Can I say, I can relate to what you're saying?
When you love a particular person, you look at everything from their point of view. All your actions are directed towards that particular person. Major or Minor. But for example a person changes partners. A person should've remained the same person before that relationship, but when you fall in love with the new partner, you seem to change your behavioral patterns again.
Maybe that is what is meant when people use the term , "you aren't the person I fell in love with".

Anyhow, I'll give you a book recommendation? "Unbearable Lightness of Being"- by Milan Kundera....
I'm sure you'll love it, incase you haven't already read it.

Aayushi Mehta said...

Haha, definitely a 'somewhat startling insight'!

And damn, I missed two posts on your blog! Activate email subscription, will you please?

I have yet to start reading this book, same one you sent me the pdf fir right? I will, I will.

I have had someone trying to talk to me recently about this neurobiology of love thing, but I kind of never wanted to get to the nitty-gritties of it all.

What you say and the book says, though, definitely makes sense to me. Very much.

R said...

I love this post! And I love you for posting it. It makes both the biologist AND the hopeless romantic in me very happy.
"What all that means is that who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love."
^so much stupid grinning at this line. I wants to read this book now

Sakshi said...

"What all that means is that who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love."

True that :D

Ghata said...

That's a lovely insight! Thansk for sharing it :))

Tangled up in blue... said...

Kshipra, I've read it, I've read it! And I loved it. And now I want to reread it. :) And you're right. People do say that a lot at the end of a relationship. Now we have near-proof that that is what really happens. :D

Aayushi, yes it is! Do read, it's great fun for a science book. Although their flowery prose style takes some getting used to. :D

Tangled up in blue... said...

Riddhi, thank you! :) And seriously, this must be hands down the most romantic neurobiology book EVER! :D There's so many sentences that have me sitting there with a big smile on my face thinking so Austen had it right after all. ;)

Sakshi, oh yes! :)

Ghata, welcome to my blog! :)

Sugar Magnolia said...

TUIB, back on another stalktrail. Will return again but before leaving just had to thank you for this beautiful post.

Have someone rearranging my limbic system at the moment and ll go out on a limb here (heh) and share this with them. Surprisingly mushy discovery this, on your blog. SO loving it!

Hope you are well, lovely writer. =)