Scientific article

Why is your spouse so predictable? Connecting mirror neuron system and self-expansion model of love

Published inMedical hypotheses, vol. 71, no. 6, p. 941-944
Publication date2008

The simulation theory assumes we understand actions and intentions of others through a direct matching process. This matching process activates a complex brain network involving the mirror neuron system (MNS), which is self-related and active when one does something or observes someone else acting. Because social psychology admits that mutual intention's understanding grows in close relationship as love grows, we hypothesize that mirror mechanisms take place in love relationships. The similarities between the mirror matching process and the mutual intention's understanding that occurs when two persons are in love suggest that exposure to love might affect functional and neural mechanisms, thus facilitating the understanding of the beloved's intentions. Congruent with our hypothesis, our preliminary results from 38 subjects strongly suggest a significant facilitation effect of love on understanding the intentions of the beloved (as opposed to control stimuli). Based on these phenomenological, and neurofunctional findings we suggest that the mirror mechanisms are involved in the facilitation effects of love for understanding intentions, and might further be extended to any types of love (e.g., passionate love, maternal love). Love experiences are important not only to the beloved himself, but also to any societal, cultural, and institutional patterns that relate to love. Yet, concerning its subjective character, love experiences are difficult to access. The modern procedures and techniques of socio-cognitive neuroscience make it possible to understand love and self-related experiences not only by the analysis of subjective self-reported questionnaires, but also by approaching the automatic (non-conscious) mirror experiences of love in healthy subjects, and neurological patients with a brain damage within the mirror neuron system. Although the psychology of love is now well admitted, the systematic study of the automatic facilitation effect of love through mirror mechanisms might open a new avenue towards the social mind and also self consciousness.

  • Brain/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Love
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Self Concept
  • Spouses/psychology
Citation (ISO format)
ORTIGUE, Stéphanie, BIANCHI-DEMICHELI, Francesco. Why is your spouse so predictable? Connecting mirror neuron system and self-expansion model of love. In: Medical hypotheses, 2008, vol. 71, n° 6, p. 941–944. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2008.07.016
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal0306-9877

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Creation05/28/2009 9:04:00 AM
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