Scientists have discovered a “center of love” in the brain of rodents

Scientists have discovered a “center of love” in the brain of rodents

MOSCOW, 1 Jul — RIA Novosti. American neuroscientists have found a particular area in the cortex of the brain of voles, which causes animals to feel pleasure from communication with the “second half” and is responsible for the formation of monogamous families, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.

“Vole has helped us in this research so as to hold them on a person is hard enough. We know very well what we were feeling at that moment, when we look at our loved ones or pictures of them, but so far we haven’t had notions as “pleasure center” gives rise to those feelings,” said Elizabeth Amadeus (Elizabeth Amadei) from Emory University in Atlanta (USA).

One of the main mysteries of human existence is why people, unlike most other primates are monogamous lifestyles and usually live together with the same partner throughout life.

The reason for this, as today’s scientists believe, could be several things — the need to protect their offspring from the aggression of other males, the presence of grandmothers who made the best monogamy in evolutionary terms, and even the emergence of tools.

Disclosure of “roots” of monogamy, says Amadeus, hampered by the fact that scientists still don’t know what part of the brain and what hormones are responsible for the formation of connections between the “halves” of families and what makes them maintain relationships throughout their life. To reveal the mysteries of the Amadeus and her colleagues have conducted a series of experiments on normal voles (Microtus ochrogaster) is a large rodent that lives in pairs throughout their life.

A few years ago, biologists have discovered that this process involved two hormones — dopamine, the signal of pleasure, and oxytocin, a signal of happiness, operating in certain areas in the middle of the front cortex of the brain and the pleasure center. How they work remained unknown for Amadeus and her colleagues, and scientists have decided to close this gap by tracing the brain during the formation of love relationships between voles.

As shown by these experiments, a key role in the formation of families is the middle part of the cortex of the brain, its nerve cells are activated first during the establishment of contacts between females and males, and force the nerve cells in the so-called nucleus accumbens, the “pleasure center” of the brain actively produce nerve impulses and communicate with each other.

Interestingly, the relationship strength between these regions determines how quickly formed a couple, how often and how long it “half” starts to cuddle up to each other and worry about a life partner.

Artificial stimulation of cells connecting these two regions of the brain, the rodents were forced to join the family and start to care about each other even if they barely knew each other and talked for a very short time.

Now scientists are trying to understand are the oxytocin and other hormones in the formation of connections between these brain regions.

The answer to this question will allow us to get closer to solving the mystery of why people live in monogamous relationships, but not in “harems” or singly as orangutans, chimpanzees and other closest relatives of humans.