Prime your pump to be ready for loveBy Veita Bland, M.D. / February 25, 2022
Dr. Michael Merzenich is one of those highly creative people, who wonders how the world works. As the co-inventor of the cochlear implant, Dr. Merzenich has helped to restore hearing to thousands of people around this world. He is also one of the foremost authorities on the theory that the brain continues to grow and make new cells. He believes we continue to learn and grow throughout our life.
Dr. Merzenich has examined the brain to identify what happens when strong emotions develop. He has studied what happens in the brain when we fall in love.
Most people recognize those feelings that come about when we meet a special person, who “piques our interest.” So, what is happening in our brain during this time? Dr. Merzenich says when we fall in love, a chemical storm is released in the brain. The brain pumps out dopamine and noradrenalin. Large amounts of these chemicals make us feel excited and warm all over.
Dopamine is the chemical associated with reward in the brain. The release of it is a sign that the brain is receiving something wonderful, as we feel when in love. Dopamine is also released when we are generous and giving to others. Love should be a mutual exercise in giving and receiving.
Noradrenalin is released by the brain to emphasize the newness and excitement that is happening. This chemical is released to make sure you realize that something new and special is going on that makes you feel alive and bright with energy.
As a relationship deepens, the brain is smart enough to release dopamine in anticipation of a hug or kiss or the presence of that loved one. This makes you crave it more. Some would say that love and dopamine release are like an addiction and you crave the presence of that person more and more.
As the love matures, it becomes more than an addiction, it becomes an attachment. Oxytocin is the chemical released by the brain as a reward for being in the presence of that loved one. Oxytocin is responsible for that bonding between people that happens. You trust that person and feel that person should be with you. You think and feel that person should be one with you.
Oxytocin is also the chemical that is released to form the bond between a parent and a child.
You and that person are bonded; chemically wedded in your brain just like you may be in real life.
Dr. Merzenich says you can prepare yourself for love by the way you live your life. Exercise the machinery that produces dopamine and noradrenalin. He suggests living a life full of excitement, surprises, challenges and interesting moments. Be the agent that generates rewards by being generous, complementing others and being sympathetic. With each act of kindness, you generate dopamine. Be kind, positive, loving and generous to others. That is how you prime your pump to be ready for love.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.