Poster Session C, Sunday, March 24, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Neural responses of love: a meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies in maternal and passionate love
Hsuan-Chu Shih1, Chih-Mao Huang1,2; 1Department of Biological Science and Technology, National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan, 2Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
Maternal love and passionate love are crucial for perpetuation of the species and involve the attachment behaviors with a highly rewarding experience. Neurobiological studies of attachment in mammals and recent human neuroimaging studies suggest that the coordination of oxytocinergic pathway contributes to the formation and maintenance of maternal and passionate love as well as results in a tight coupling with dopaminergic reward system. In the present study, we investigate the common and specific neural substrates between maternal love and passionate love in human by performing a quantitative meta-analysis of functional MRI studies using activation likelihood estimation approach. Twelve published fMRI studies related to maternal love and nine published studies of passionate love were included. The meta-analytic results showed that both types of love recruited distributed neural networks associated with cognitive, affective, and rewarding systems, including left putamen, bilateral medial caudate nucleus, substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area and bilateral thalamus. Furthermore, maternal love showed greater activation in bilateral superior frontal gyrus, right inferior frontal gyrus, bilateral hypothalamus and left amygdala which may involve more cognitive-emotional regulation of attachment behavior. In contrast, passionate love specifically recruited left insular activation that may represent the attachment behavior for interpersonal relations. Our findings suggest the similar but distributed brain networks associated with oxytocinergic and dopaminergic systems that relate to cognitive, affective, and motivational processing for perceiving maternal and passionate love, and provide neuroimaging evidence to support the notion that maternal love and passionate love share a common evolutionary origin and neurobiological functions in neural level.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions