Why is it that a broken heart can leave us nearly incapable of anything? Explained by anthropologist Helen Fisher, a major factor in increasing the intensity of love is that love is present in many parts of the brain. The ventral tegmental area of the brain is responsible for making dopamine in response to a rewarding experience. This area of the brain is much more than our emotions, it’s associated with the reptilian part of the brain which is responsible for wanting, motivation, focus, and craving. This area of the brain is activated during a cocaine high, but lasts much longer when an individual is in love.
Fisher and her team conducted MRI tests to study which regions of the brain are activated with love and which are activated after an individual has been dumped. One of the regions that was activated was the same as an individual who is experiencing intense romantic love. This becomes problematic because it causes an individual to love even harder. The second area that showed activity is associated with gains and losses. After a breakup, individuals try to rationalize what went wrong and what has been lost. The third region was one associated with deep attachment and this can explain why crimes of passion occur.