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Human relationships and the Brain

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

Ms. Vaishnavi Zolambekar

St. Xavier's College (Autonomous),

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India


When you look at the word 'Neuroscience', what is the first thing that comes to mind? Neurons? Study? Boring or interesting? For most people "the study of the brain" would be amongst first thoughts & yes it is correct. Our brain is the organ that controls various functions, movements, sensations, and thoughts. As it controls so many things, it is bound to be complex and therefore its study requires a lot of research work. "Brain is a social organ" (Cozolino 2013, p.3) & believe it or not, but our relations with other people or the way we interact with them do play an important role in the functioning of the brain. Hence human relationships are related to neuroscience. If you want to know "how", then this blog is for you.

Meaning of human relationships

Human relationship is the connection of one person with another person. It is the way by which two or more people get connected. These relationships are important for the well-being of an individual. Human relationships could be family relationships, friendships, love relationships, platonic relationships & professional relationships.

Human relationships, health & the Brain

From the definition of relationships, we often think that relationships are formed after the birth of a child. But most of the time the child already has developed a special bond with his/her mother in the womb. This is because of the hormones which activate the brain and then pass to the various parts of the body. Hormones are the chemical substances created by various organs over our body. They act as messages and are transmitted between the brain & the body. There are various hormones that are released by the brain & secreted throughout the body. Examples of some brain activating hormones are dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin, etc. When we feel good our brain is releasing one of these happy chemicals. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that produces liberality and trust, removes fear, and even encourages individuals to recoup from negative social connections. It is also important for bonding in romantic relationships. It increases the feeling of attachment & is known as the love hormone. Dopamine is associated with the processing of rewarding experiences. It also plays an important role in many other functions like lactation, attention, sleep regulation, nausea, motivation, etc. Another neurotransmitter serotonin is believed to contribute to feelings of wellbeing and happiness. It may affect sleep and appetite as well.

The one important thing we can easily notice is that those who are nurtured best, survive best. We need love, belonging, and attuned relationships for optimal brain development. For the first decade of life, our caretakers are our whole world. These interactions teach us if we are lovable and what we can expect from others in the future. These social experiences are translated, for better and for worse, into the structure of our brain. We get these experiences from the various forms of relationships, which we come across throughout our life.

Family relationship

The family includes our parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and guardians. These are the first type of relationships we form after birth. We are often close to our family members, especially our parents and siblings. Such relationships are very respectful. The happy family relationships result in the secretion of oxytocin and make us feel good.


We all experience different types of friendship in our life. It involves sharing things, giving advice, and taking care of one another. It is the type of relationship where there are no formalities and an individual enjoys each other's presence. A quality laugh with our friends can help to eliminate anxiety or stress by boosting dopamine.

Love relationship

It is an interpersonal relationship that involves passion, intimacy, trust, and respect. These love relationships are different from fellowship due to the importance given by both the partners to sexual interest and due to the fascination, they feel about each other. Offering dinner to somebody you love and setting up that food together can help to release oxytocin. Also, the enjoyment which we get from eating our favorite, delicious food can help in the release of dopamine and endorphin.

Platonic relationship

It is the relationship between two individuals having no feelings or special desires for each other. In this type of relationship men and women are just friends and don't mix love with friendship.

Professional relationship

It is the kind of interpersonal relationship between the people working in the same organization and having nearly the same goal. When we achieve our goal by active participation and equal efforts from both sides then there is a release of reward processing hormone dopamine and we feel good & motivated.

Relationships are constant navigation of separateness and togetherness; independence and connections. No matter what you are going through, there is always a possibility of feeling good in the presence of our near and dear ones. In this fastest and extra fast world, the mental relaxations are more important & necessary as compared to the physical relaxation and therefore we should try to be happy always. As human beings, we are hard-wired for connections. This means that we heal through relationships and relationships help us to rediscover & rebuild our life and hence it is very important to maintain our relationships healthy for a better living experience.


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