Romantic love associated with reduction of gray matter density

The study, conducted by a team of researchers lead by Hiroaki Kawamichi (National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan) involved taking an MRI scan of 113 student participants. Most of the participants then went on to complete the Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) which is a measure of how happy or unhappy an individual is.

The results found that people in a romantic relationship reported themselves as happier compared to people who were not in a relationship. The authors state that ‘being in a romantic relationship enhances perceived subjective happiness via positive experiences’. Additionally, the study found that people who were in a romantic relationship had reduced grey matter in the right striatum, which is thought to be a result of the positive experiences and social reward that come from being in a romantic relationship.

The results confirm the idea that being in a romantic relationship can cause structural alterations to the human brain and that people who are in a romantic relationship perceive themselves to be happier than those who are not.