Are you on dope(amine)?

by F.

Tara Parker-Pope (who previously picked a peck of pickled peppers) posted a piece previously on WSJ.com primarily about love and its effect on the brain:

Studies in Italy looking at blood levels of the brain chemical serotonin have suggested that love and mental illness have much in common. They compared serotonin levels of people recently in love; patients with obsessive compulsive disorder; and a “control” group that was neither. The researchers found that the love-struck participants showed a drop in serotonin levels similar to those with obsessive-compulsive problems.

But here’s the interesting part:

Studies show that trying something new with a spouse can go a long way toward reigniting love. In one study, couples were assigned a weekly activity they both found new and exciting — such as sailing or taking an art class. Another group did pleasant but familiar activities, such as dinner with friends. Based on answers to relationship tests, the couples doing new things showed far more improvement in the quality of their marriage after 10 weeks than couples who did the same things every week. The lesson is that sharing new experiences with your spouse appears to trigger changes in the brain that mimic the early days of being in love.

This seems right to me. The piece draws on the work of Helen Fisher, at Rutgers.

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