VSL:SCIENCE // The real difference between love and hate

Researchers in London scanned the brains of 17 subjects as they viewed photos of people they detested — co-workers, ex-lovers, and one “very famous politician.” Their findings told them a lot about the neural dynamics of hate as well as its more fondly regarded opposite.

According to lead researcher Semi Zeki, the pictures activated a pair of brain areas that are also associated with maternal and romantic love. But Zeki did find some important differences: The hate network failed to trigger the brain’s reward system — which flares up wildly when we love. And hate pushed the judging-and-planning center of the brain — the frontal cortex — into high gear, while the chemical rush we call love shut most of it down. Love really is blind, it seems — but hate looks on, and plans, with ruthless clarity.

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