Three individuals show similar VTA activity (arrows), but some cortical areas are different.  The cortex is all of the light gray areas that appear folded, just below the skull.  You can see the outline of the subjects’ noses to the right of each image.

Cerebral cortex activity varied among individuals

All the lovers in our experiment used their cerebral cortex as they thought about their partner.  Cortical areas linked with emotion became active, too.

But these brain regions varied from one participant to the next, as you would expect.  No two people have the same personality; no two share the same memories, hopes and dreams; no two romances are exactly alike.

But the basic feeling of human romantic love is universal—emanating from ancient pathways that humans share with birds and other mammals, pathways that orchestrate basic reflex and survival systems, pathways that produce one of the world’s most powerful feelings: human romantic love.