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Filial versus romantic love: Contributions from peripheral and central electrophysiology

Filial versus romantic love: Contributions from peripheral and central electrophysiology

Authors: 
P. Guerra, R.R. Campagnoli, C. Vico, E. Volchan, L. Anllo-Vento & J. Vila
Year: 
2011
Journal: 
Biological Psychology
Abstract: 

A major problem in recent neuroscience research on the processing of loved familiar faces is the absence of evidence concerning the elicitation of a genuine positive emotional response (love). These studies have two confounds: familiarity and arousal. The present investigation controlled for both factors in female university students. Two categories of loved faces were chosen: one with higher familiarity but lower emotionality (fathers) and the other with higher emotionality but lower familiarity (romantic partners). Unfamiliar and baby faces were used as control faces. Central and peripheral electrophysiological measures as well as subjective indices of valence, arousal, and dominance were recorded. Results support the conclusion that viewing loved familiar faces elicits an intense positive emotional reaction that cannot be explained either by familiarity or arousal. The differences between romantic and filial love appeared in the magnitude of some peripheral and subjective indices of emotionality (zygomatic activity, valence, arousal, and dominance), that were higher for images of the romantic partners, and one central index of familiarity (the P3 amplitude), that was higher for images of the fathers.

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