New discoveries that love alters the brain may not be front page news, but maybe it should...
It is an ancient wisdom that counsels to an eternal truth: what we pay attention to not only grows but ultimately defines us. Now, science is catching up age old wisdom and neuroscientists are "seeing" this in our brains. The gist: how and with whom you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life will literally transform you. Diane Ackerman's gorgeously written column, The Brain in Love, explores how relationships alter the brain -- most especially, intimate relationships-- those that fail or lift us. These bonds, she writes, change the delicate circuitry that shape memories, emotions and ultimately, the self. Loving relationships it turns out change the brain most significantly:
...we inhabit a mirror-world in which every important relationship, whether with spouse, friend or child, shapes the brain, which in turn shapes our relationships. Daniel J. Siegel and Allan N. Schore, colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently discussed groundbreaking work in the field at a conference on the school’s campus. It’s not that caregiving changes genes; it influences how the genes express themselves as the child grows. Dr. Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist, refers to the indelible sense of “feeling felt” that we learn as infants and seek in romantic love, a reciprocity that remodels the brain’s architecture and functions.
Oh mother was so right when she cautioned me as a young girl: Tell me with whom you walk and I will tell you who you are. Translated loosely from the Spanish aphorism: dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.
So glad that it was advice that I kept in the back burner and managed to consistently keep. Thank you mom!