How Does Neuroscience Explain Love at First Sight?

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Falling in love causes a tingling sensation associated with a plethora of feelings. You can be anxious, excited, angry, angry, obsessed, passionate, hurt within a short span of time. That is because there is a rush of several hormones in the brain when we are in love it causes this weird inexplicable feeling.

Three major hormones that come to play are Oxytocin, Dopamine and Adrenaline.


oxytocin - the magical formula for falling in love
oxytocin – the magical formula for falling in love

Oxytocin is a hormone that’s produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. Its main function is to facilitate childbirth, which is one of the reasons it is called the “love drug” or “love hormone.”

Our bodies also produce oxytocin when we’re excited by our sexual partner, and when we fall in love. That’s why it has earned the nicknames, “love hormone” and “cuddle hormone.”

This hormone is the feel- good hormone we experience when we experience physical touch and intimacy by our loved one ie, kissing, hugging, cuddling.

Oxytocin is also known to reduce cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress making us feel relaxed and less anxious. Cortisol is linked with depression and other physical and mental ailments. It also weakens the immune system. Oxytocin however undoes the cortisol effect and tries to restore balance to your body.

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A research by Cleveland Clinic indicates that this same hormone is responsible for the stimulation of uterine contractions that occur during child birh. The pituitary gland then releases additional oxytocin as a result of these uterine contractions, increasing the contractions’ strength and frequency.


Dopamine - the love indicator
Dopamine – the love indicator

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects various brain regions and regulates the pituitary gland.

Dopamine is linked to pleasure, motivation, and reward, as well as the maintenance of movement. Activities that induce a surge of dopamine cause the brain to ascribe significance to those feelings, thereby motivating the individual to pursue them. Included among the emotions triggered by dopamine are sexual desire and romantic love.

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According to Olds, falling in love also releases high levels of dopamine, a chemical that “activates the reward system.” Dopamine activates the reward circuit, making love a pleasurable experience comparable to the euphoria produced by cocaine or alcohol.

This hormone is also responsible for the physical changes associated with sexual attraction. In the presence of someone for whom you have strong romantic feelings, you may experience a rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, and flushed cheeks. All of these biological processes are partially caused by elevated dopamine levels.

Cortisol and norepinephrine may also be elevated, causing a sense of urgency and frequent thoughts of the person for whom we have romantic feelings.


You’re drawn to a new person. Or perhaps you suddenly find yourself drawn to someone you’ve known for a time. Your body responds to messages sent by your brain before you have a chance to consider how you are feeling. This results in:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dilated eyes
  • Increased sweating
  • Heightened anxiety and nervousness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased ability to concentrate

The moment you even catch a glimpse of the object of your attraction, your adrenaline rushes. The hormone makes blood vessels enlarge, which improves the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body. The outcome? An attractive (and perhaps embarrassing) flushing of your cheeks.

In addition to making you feel lusty, adrenaline can make your pulse race, your palms start to perspire, and your head start to “spin.” At this stage of your relationship, there is a lot of sexual attraction. Thinking with clarity and calm is not.

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