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heartbreak?  You can learn this from the field mouse

heartbreak? You can learn this from the field mouse

The prairie vole is more like humans than you might first think: it lives in monogamous relationships and cares for the young with its mate. She feels a kind of pain of separation, just as we humans feel. Our species may be able to learn a lesson from its way around this problem, as new research data now suggests.

a Research team from the United States of America Recently it was investigated how rats from the North American steppes outcompete their former partners. To do this, dopamine levels were measured in the brains of test animals. Dopamine is also known as the happiness hormone because it controls our desires.

Voles belong to the burrowing family – the one in the picture is a bank vole.Image: Wikipedia

In one experiment, a mouse had to press a lever to open a door to reach its mouse or climb a fence. If the mouse's partner waited behind him, the dopamine level increased. However, if there was a strange mouse on the other side of the obstacle, dopamine levels in the brain did not change.

When applied to humans, this means that the reward system is activated more strongly when we spend time with someone important to us, whether a partner or a good friend.

To examine the effects of separation on the mouse brain, the pairs were separated for four weeks. That's a long time for animals that live for about a year in the wild. When the two met again, the biochemical reaction was different: life partners became former partners. Although the animals remembered each other, the dopamine rush did not occur. “We see this as a kind of brain reset that allows the animal to form a new association,” explains neuroscientist Zoe Donaldson, who participated in the study.

The extent to which this mechanism can be transferred to humans remains uncertain. However, if dopamine release also plays a central role in interpersonal relationships, it would help to understand what healthy connections look like in the brain. Donaldson says this finding could help treat people with mental health problems. If this mechanism also applies to humans, it means that our brain protects us from unrequited love. And that every heartbreak must end sooner or later. (grapes)

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