Rx: Love

Can love “ACTUALLY” make the world more beautiful?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ah, love – it makes us see everything through “rose-colored glasses.” At least, according to the movies. We feel great and life just seems…well, lovelier! But wait – does love REALLY transform the way we visually process the world?

Enter Dr. Cannas Aghedu and colleagues at the University of Padova, Italy. They explored how love affects our feelings towards love-UN-related scenarios. 

Forty university students reported whether they were in love or not. Then they listened to music and viewed a series of either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral images. Pleasant images included adventurous sports scenes; unpleasant ones showed people being attacked. Their brain activity was monitored using an intricate set of probes all over the head. Think of it like a swim cap of spiderwebbed wires!

Surprisingly, the “in-love group” showed overall DECREASED brain activity after viewing the unpleasant pictures. This data suggests that basically, love makes the bad stuff seem not so bad.

I guess The Beatles were right: all you need is love!

Reference: Cannas Aghedu, Fabio, Michela Sarlo, Filippo Zappasodi, Bianca P. Acevedo, and Patrizia S. Bisiacchi. “Romantic Love Affects Emotional Processing of Love-Unrelated Stimuli: An EEG/ERP Study Using a Love Induction Task.” Brain and Cognition 151 (2021): 105733. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2021.105733.