It turns out there really is a thin line between love and hate, as far as your brain is concerned, that is.
A new study reveals that the brain's "love" and "hate" circuits share identical structures.
Both include regions known as the putamen and insula which are linked to aggression and distress.
"Hate is often considered to be an evil passion that should, in a better world, be tamed, controlled, and eradicated," said Professor Semir Zeki, of University College London, who carried out the brain scan study.
"Yet to the biologist, hate is a passion that is of equal interest to love," he said. "Like love, it is often seemingly irrational and can lead individuals to heroic and evil deeds. "
To find out how two opposite sentiments can lead to the same behavior, Zeki's team scanned 17 male and female volunteers while they looked at pictures of individuals they hated, as well as familiar "neutral" faces.
Researchers found that both love and hate de-activate zones within the cerebral cortex of the brain. The cerebral cortex plays a key role in memory, attention, thought, and consciousness.
Love, however, causes the biggest de-activation in this area of the brain, however, drawing the thin line between love and hate.
"A marked difference in the cortical pattern," said Zeki, "is that, whereas with love large parts of the cerebral cortex associated with judgment and reasoning become de-activated, with hate only a small zone, located in the frontal cortex, becomes de-activated."