Emotions: Love and Hate

An interesting report in the Independent, 29 October, by science editor Steve Connor on a neurophysiological  finding that love and hatred share the same brain circuitry.  What is more large areas of the cerebral cortex associated with judgment and reasoning become deactivated during love while only a small area is deactivated during hate.

Here are some excerpts:

Professor Zeki and John Romaya of the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology…found that the hate circuit includes parts of the brain called the putamen and the insula, found in the sub-cortex of the organ. The putamen is already known to be involved in the perception of contempt and disgust and may also be part of the motor system involved in movement and action.

“Significantly, the putamen and the insula are also both activated by romantic love. This is not surprising. The putamen could also be involved in the preparation of aggressive acts in a romantic context, as in situations when a rival presents a danger,” Professor Zeki said.

One major difference between love and hate appears to be in the fact that large parts of the cerebral cortex – associated with judgement and reasoning – become de-activated during love, whereas only a small area is deactivated in hate.

“This may seem surprising since hate can also be an all-consuming passion like love. But whereas in romantic love, the lover is often less critical and judgemental regarding the loved person, it is more likely that in the context of hate the hater may want to exercise judgement in calculating moves to harm, injure or otherwise exact revenge,” Professor Zeki said.

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