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Recent studies in neuroscience have indicated that as people fall in love, the brain consistently releases a certain set of chemicals, including the neurotransmitter hormones, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, the same compounds released by amphetamine, stimulating the brain's pleasure center and leading to side effects such as increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and an intense feeling of excitement.Research has indicated that this stage generally lasts from one and a half to three years.Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of love: infatuated love, self-love, and courtly love.
This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.
In recent years, the sciences of psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, and biology have added to the understanding the concept of love.
Helen Fisher, a leading expert in the topic of love, divides the experience of love into three partly overlapping stages: lust, attraction, and attachment.
For example, compassionate outreach and volunteer workers' "love" of their cause may sometimes be born not of interpersonal love but impersonal love, altruism, and strong spiritual or political convictions.
People can also "love" material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things.
Throughout history, philosophy and religion have done the most speculation on the phenomenon of love.