A new research has supported the idea that long-term love is possible.
A new study, led by Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron of the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University and colleagues, compared the neural correlates of long-term married and in love individuals with individuals who had recently fallen in love.
They discovered highly similar brain activity in regions associated with reward, motivation and "wanting" in both sets of couples.
The research team used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of 10 women and 7 men who reported that they were still intensely in love with their spouse after an average of 21 years of marriage.
"We found many very clear similarities between those who were in love long term and those who had just fallen madly in love," said Aron, referring to key reward and motivation regions of the brain, largely parts of the dopamine-rich ventral tegmental area (VTA).
"In this latest study, the VTA showed greater response to images of a long-term partner when compared with images of a close friend or any of the other facial images," he said.
Acevedo and Aron explained that the brain imaging data on the long-term couples suggested that reward-value associated with a long-term partner may be sustained, similar to new love.
Additionally, the results supported theories proposing that there might be specific brain mechanisms by which romantic love is sustained in some long-term relationships.
The findings were published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.