A medical test to detect ‘true love’ will be available in by 2028, according to one of the world’s leading neurologists.
The painless test will work by detecting the presence of potent ‘love’ chemicals in the brain using an MRI-type scanner.
While most people will use the test for ‘fun’, others will use them to avoid marrying the wrong person or finding out if their relationship is worth the hassle, according to California-based neuroscientist Dr Fred Nour.
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A medical test to ‘true love’ will be available in Britain within a decade, says one of the world’s leading neurologists. The painless, non-invasive procedure will enable doctors to accurately determine whether a patient is truly smitten or ‘faking it’ (stock image)
The test will detect chemicals, called nonapeptides, that are only produced in significant quantities when a person is truly in love, researchers believe.
Dr Nour spoke about the test yesterday at the Los Angeles launch of his new book, ‘True Love: Love Explained by Science’.
He said: ‘In theory, this test could provide a definitive answer to whether someone was truly in love or not.
‘If nonapeptides aren’t present in high levels in the brain, then it’s a tell-tale sign that a person is not truly in love as it’s scientifically impossible to be in true love without them.
‘For many couples, the test would be just another novelty, but in some cases a pre-marital scan could help people avoid marrying someone with ulterior motives.’
While most people will use the test for ‘fun’, others will use them to avoid marrying the wrong person, according to US neuroscientist Dr Fred Nour (stock image)
At present, the procedure for measuring the volume of nonapeptides in the brain can be done only in living laboratory animals.
But advances in medical technology means a brain test could become a reality by 2028, Dr Nour said.
Unlike lie detectors and other existing devices, such a scanner could not be duped and would boast an accuracy rate of between 97 and 99 per cent.
Dr Nour estimates that at least two-in-three people who undergo the procedure, which would confirm within a few hours whether they are truly in love, will do so for fun or as a romantic gesture.
WHAT ARE THE FIVE STAGES OF A RELATIONSHIP AND HOW DO THEY AFFECT THE BODY?
Psychologists suggest there are five stages of love – butterflies, building, assimilation, honesty and stability.
Each of these stages has a different impact on our psyche and health, researchers at eHarmony found in a 2014 survey.
Marked by intense infatuation and sexual attraction, symptoms noted by couples included weight loss (30 per cent) and a lack of productivity (39 per cent).
Biologically, it’s reported that during this early stage of dating, both men and women create more of the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen.
As a result more than half – 56 per cent – noted an increase in their libido.
Psychologists suggest there are five stages of love – butterflies, building, assimilation, honesty and stability
As the initial attraction gives way to learning more about one another, the honeymoon stage subsides and a couple begin to build their relationship.
eHarmony’s study estimated around three per cent of Britons in relationship are currently at stage two.
The body releases neurochemicals called monoamines, which speed up heart rate, trigger rushes of intense pleasure and replicate the effects of Class A drugs.
The biological effect culminates in a feeling of ‘happy anxiety’, where people can think of little else than their blossoming relationship.
Forty-four per cent of the study participants noted a lack of sleep while 29 per cent reported a their attention span had been adversely affected.
Having established whether the other person is ‘right’, stage three forces a couple to question whether the ‘relationship’ itself is right.
Questions over the future of the union and forming boundaries in the relationship can lead to a rise in stress levels, reported by 27 per cent of those taking part in the study.
Each of the five stages of a relationship has a different impact on our psyche and health, researchers at eHarmony found in a 2014 survey (stock image)
Stage three combines with stage four, where people open up showing the ‘real you’ sees the first real rise in stress levels and anxiety.
‘This stage deals with the concept behind how we all put on our best faces, through social media we edit our lives as well as our pictures to make it appear as though everything is fine,’ psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, who assisted with the study, told MailOnline.
Opening up completely triggered feelings of doubt and increased vulnerability in 15 per cent of participants.
If a couple can weather the emotional rollercoaster of the first four stages, the fifth and final stage, stability, brings with it increased levels of trust and intimacy.
eHarmony found 50 per cent of respondents had reached this stage, and 23 per cent reported feeling happier as a result.
Biologically, vasopressin – a powerful hormone released by men and women during orgasm – strengthens feelings of attachment.
Meanwhile oxytocin – released during childbirth – deepens feelings of attachment.
‘This is where we see a real level of contentness,’ Dr Papadopolous told MailOnline.
‘We found the body releases wonderful hormones which helps couples bond. We noted a real sense of attachment, and a sense of “you have got my back and I’ve got yours”.’
But the remainder are likely to be the rich and famous who want to protect their fortunes from ‘fakers and gold diggers’ ahead of tying the knot.
A pre-marital scan may even become a necessary – and legally admissible – element of a pre-nuptial agreement.
Dr Nour said: ‘Nonapeptides are the markers of true love in humans, known to cause the long-term bonding process.
‘We can’t currently detect the levels of nonapeptides in the living human brain except through invasive procedures, which is why it is only performed on research animals.
‘However, there is already a non-invasive test similar to this called DaT scan which measures the levels of dopamine in the living human brain. It takes around two hours to get the results and is virtually painless and harmless to perform.
‘As medical scanning technology continues to improve, I think a similar test to measure these love chemicals in the living human brain could be available within a decade.’
In 2005 a team of American non-medical researchers claimed to have found the first direct evidence of love-related changes to the brain.
Using functional MRI scanners, they reportedly identified a ‘love map’ after detecting increased activity in certain areas of the brain linked to reward and motivation in people who were in love.
However, Dr Nour points out that the medical community does not accept the functional MRI as a real test, while neurologists and neurosurgeons worldwide never use it to study or diagnose conditions in the brain.
From his extensive research Dr Nour believes that the only way to scientifically prove that love exists is to measure the volume of nonapeptides in the intermediate-aged limbic part of a patient’s brain.
Nonapeptides, which comprise oxytocin and vasopressin, are already known to encourage life-long bonding and monogamy between mates.
Its presence can currently only be detected in living brains following an invasive procedure, where a tiny tube is inserted directly into the brain to extract these chemicals for subsequent analysis at a laboratory.
This is not a practical approach for humans and, to date, they have only been measured in significant quantities in the brains of research animals.
Dr Nour, a global authority on the physical brain science of love, claims that the next generation of brain scanners capable of measuring the love chemicals in the living is only a decade or less away.
‘There are so-called love tests available today, but they don’t address the actual biological mechanisms,’ he said.
‘The true love test would probably work by injecting a radioactive dye into a patient, which would then bond with the nonapeptide receptors in the brain and show up when the brain is scanned.
‘No medical test is 100 per cent accurate, but the love test would be correct 97, 98 or even 99 per cent of the time, and this will only improve with ongoing research.’
It is unlikely to be made available on the NHS for privacy and ethical reasons, he says, but will instead be developed for private medical practices where scans could cost up to £500 ($700).
Dr Nour said: ‘A love test brings along with it a big ethical problem as no doctor would be comfortable telling a client that their partner doesn’t actually love them. This would be doing harm, which is against medical ethics’.
‘I’ve no doubt, however, that those outside of the medical profession will seek to commercialise it as the potential market for such a device would be huge.’
‘The love test will enable people to confirm that the person they intend to wed really means ‘I do’ and not, ‘I do*want your money.’