London, Feb 10: Clues about whether a new romance is likely to be more lasting can be found within the folds of our brains, showing up in scans, says new research.
Scientists detected distinctive patterns of electrical activity in the brains of love struck volunteers and found that they could use the scans to predict whether a couple would stay together.
Arthur Aron, professor and social psychologist at Stony Brook University, New York, says: “All of those involved in the study felt very intensely in love with their partner and this was reflected in their scans, but there were some subtle indicators that showed how stable those feeling were,” the journal Neuroscience Letters reports.
“If that strong feeling was combined with signs that they could regulate emotions, to see the partner positively and deal with conflict, then it seems to be really productive in staying with the person,” adds Aron, according to the Telegraph.
Using magnetic resonance imaging, the scientists scanned a group of volunteers, who had fallen passionately in love and had been with their partner for about a year.
As they were scanned, each was shown a picture of their partner and asked to think of memories of them. The participants were also asked to think about and look at pictures of an acquaintance with whom they had no romantic attachment.
Three years later, the researchers compared the scans with the outcome of each relationship. Half the relationships had lasted. The scientists found that the scans of those who were still in relationships had heightened levels of activity, when thinking of their partner.
Another part of the brain, known as the medial orbitofrontal cortex, was also less active, which the scientists say made those people less critical and judgmental about their partners. Aron said the research could have a practical application in helping people having relationship problems.