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A hug is duct tape for the soul.

As love-struck couples shower their special someones with cards, gifts and flowers for Valentine's Day, a trio of researchers at Rutgers University have taken up the task of unlocking the mysteries of love and human sexuality that have perplexed men and women since the beginning of time.

Helen Fisher of New York City, a research professor and member of Human Evolutionary Studies in the anthropology department in New Brunswick, has done extensive research on romantic love and brain chemistry. She also has written five books on the subjects.

Among her findings: People can remain in love long term, and sometimes opposites do attract.

Fisher and her colleagues scanned the brains of about 60 people to study the brain circuitry of romantic love. They examined 17 people who had just fallen madly in love, 15 who had just been rejected in love and 17 people in their 50s who were married an average of 21 years and said they are still in love with their partner.

"We found out that dopamine is central to the feeling of romantic love," she said. "It gives you a feeling of elation, the focused attention and the craving for the person."

While she found activity in the brain's dopamine system, Fisher said there were significant differences.

Those rejected in love had activity in the part of the dopamine system, but the part associated with addiction.

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