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Brain Scans Could Reveal Your Relationship's Lasting Power

But it's not in the ways you'd think.

Your brain might know more about your relationship than you do. When we're in love, we tend to act a bit off (I, for one, became quite awkward). You start imagining the future, and apparently, your brain can tell you whether you'll ever reach that utopian point in your relationship, according to a Yahoo News report I recently came across.

It talked about a new study put on by a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University School of Medicine that reported that brain scans from newly smitten subjects can indicate how long their current relationship will last. "Among the people whose relationships became long-term, looking at a picture of their beloved caused a decrease in activity in regions [of their brains] that we associate with making judgments, and also a decrease in activity in systems associated with a person's sense of self." Translation: Those people didn't judge their partners; in fact, they tended to overrate them (Holly and I judge each other all the time, so…). Also, that person's interests tend to fall by the wayside, and they give great importance to their partner's hobbies and desires.

I can understand these qualifiers when you're talking about new love or even a relationship that's a few years old. But when we're talking about marriage, I imagine the scans would change a bit. If I had kept idolizing Holly, I'm not sure how healthy of a relationship we'd have. On top of that, we both need our hobbies, both separately and together, to keep things interesting. Otherwise, we'd have little to occupy the hours -- and we'd probably not have much to talk about.

Another study was conducted by a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University about newlywed couples, both during their wedding planning process and after one year of marriage. According to the study, "It's true that when people show nonjudgment in the beginning of their relationships, that helps them to get hooked on that person. That's okay in the beginning, but later, it's important to see things clearly when you're stepping into a lifelong commitment." In other words, newlyweds and married couples have heightened activity in the areas of the brain that were previously showing decreased signals. Somewhere along the line, things change for your brain in a relationship.

It's interesting that the same areas of the brain, the one that shows sense of self and the one that we associate with making judgments, can point to successful relationships—but with completely opposite results.

What do you think about this? Do you think your brain would show these same results with you and your significant other?

-- Jack