Love on the Brain in Paris

One of the first things that come to mind when I think of Paris is love.

Ever since I was young, I looked forward to a time in my life where I would meet someone who I connected with on a deep emotional level and who I could experience the rest of my life with by my side, someone who at the end of my life we can together look back on all the memories we made and happiness we shared with one another.

Mur des Je t’aime: The wall of love

Paris can be otherwise referred to as the city of love and ever since my arrival, I can see why. Not only do people show more physical affection when in public, but also the surrounding scenery bodes for romance. With the Pont des Arts Bridge filled with lovelocks to the romantic language spoken throughout to the Mur des Je t’aime otherwise referred to as the wall of love with 311 different languages to say I love you, love and romance permeates throughout this city.

Pont des Arts Bridge with lovelocks

After walking through the park on my way back from brunch, I could not help but notice the amount of couples so deeply focused on one-another and so clearly in love. This public affection of love seems to be a lot more common here than I am used to and led me to want to research more about the effect love has on the brain.

Being in love appears to directly affect structures and circuitry in the brain. I have previously heard of the effect of love being equated with that of a drug due to its influence on specific body hormones and the reward system in the brain.   I decided to find a study that looked at a different impact love has on the brain. The study I found looked at the gray matter in the striatum of the brain, so the cell bodies in a portion of the front of the brain, as well as, perceived subjective happiness (Kawamichi et al, 2016). The researchers divided the individuals into two groups based on whether they were in a romantic relationship or not. They used an imaging technique, as well as, a subjective happiness scale and found that those in a romantic relationship had reduced cell bodies in an area in the front of the brain and increased subjective happiness. In essence, those in love feel happier and have perceived happier or more positive experiences.

Visual/Graph from Paper. The visual shows the location where they see difference in gray matter in the dorsal location of the Striatum. The graph shows the significant difference between the gray matter for those in a relationship (less gray matter) vs. no relationship.

To me this was very interesting to read about. Being in love affects our brain structures, so that we feel happier and perceive experiences as more positive. Walking around Paris and seeing the couples so enthralled and focused on one another, it makes sense that love affects the chemistry of the brain on a deeper level. I can see why Paris is the city of love. From the glistening Eiffel Tower at night to the beautiful architecture on all the buildings unlike I’ve ever seen before to the Chateaux’s we visited, the environment is magical, making it a perfect place to be known for love.

A Chateaux we visited


Kawamichi, H., Sugawara, S. K., Hamano, Y. H., Makita, K., Matsunaga, M., Tanabe, H. C., . . . Sadato, N. (2016). Being in a Romantic Relationship Is Associated with Reduced Gray Matter Density in Striatum and Increased Subjective Happiness. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01763

All images not my own from Creative Commons





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