Prof. Zhang Xiaochu: Because of Love - from the Perspective of Neural Mechanism


Time: May 29, 2019 (Wednesday) 13:00

Venue: Room 239, Building No.8, Songjiang Campus

Speaker: Zhang Xiaochu, Professor from School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China

Host: Professor Pan Yu

Topic: The Neural Mechanism of Love


Social psychologists define romantic love as a motivational state associated with a desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with a specific other person.With the development of science and technology, the neural mechanisms related to love and the factors that maintain a romantic relationship has been a subject of academic research. However, not much is known about whether romantic love affects the brain’s functional architecture. What is the psychological and neural mechanism behind a long-lasting relationship? Is there a mental connection in a romantic relationship? What is the neural mechanism behind that phenomenon?

To start with, our experiments found activation increases in brain regions involved in the processing of reward, motivation and emotion regulation, as well as in the social cognition network on the experience of love, suggesting that love is an advanced cognitive behavior. Subsequent review of previous studies found that among the many influencing factors, positive illusion has the highest predictive rate for the maintenance of romantic relationships. The experiment also proves that positive illusion persists in relationships because of asynchronous occurrence of partner-related information (positive or negative) that engages in the adaptive forming of a partner’s impressions. That process is associated with certain brain areas such as the left posterior inferior frontal gyrus (pIFG). In addition, we found that intimate individuals have higher synchrony in behavior and brain activity when they sense the same type of stimulation, suggesting certain connections between each other.

In conclusion, the research demonstrates that we can think of love as the result of certain neural activity, not a mysterious psychological phenomenon.

Guest Speaker:

Dr. Zhang is a Professor and PhD Tutor at the School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China. Professor Zhang has carried out cognitive neuropsychological researches on brain structure and function, covering questions of working/short-term memory and the interaction of cravings and regulation in nicotine addiction using magnetic resonance imaging. During 2005-2010, he was invited to be a visiting research fellow at the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA). In addition to the basic research on the cravings and regulation of nicotine addiction, he also carried out application research on real-time feedback technology of neural signals to help reduce cigarette craving. Professor Zhang has published over 20 research papers and for those with him as the first author, SCI impact factor is all greater than 5. In addition, he has published over 10 conference studies and made a conference report at the World Congress of Neuroscience (San Diego, USA). Professor Zhang has hosted and participated in several national research projects.

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