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Lovers' Hearts Beat in Time

Update Date: Feb 11, 2013 01:58 PM EST
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We've all heard someone say, "My heart beats for you," and we understand it to be true in an emotional sense. However, recent research indicates that it may also be true in a physiological sense as well. Research conducted by scientists at the University of California, Davis found that couples' hearts beat in unison. Somewhat less romantically, the same study found that couples breathe at the same rate as well.

"We've seen a lot of research that one person in a relationship can experience what the other person is experiencing emotionally, but this study shows they also share experiences at a physiological level," UC-Davis psychology professor Emilio Ferrer said in a statement.

The study was conducted using 32 heterosexual couples. In one study, researchers asked them to sit in the same room as one another without sitting or talking. In another, the couple was asked to mimic one another, but they still could not talk. Each of the people studied were connected to monitors that tracked their heartbeat and respiration rate.

The experiments showed that people in romantic relationships breathed in and out at the same times. Their heart rates were also in sync. Interestingly, while both members of the couple had a heart rate and respiration rate that was in sync, women adjusted their heart and respiration rates more in order to match up with their significant others. Researchers found that was true in emotional experiences as well.

"In other words, we found that women adjust in relationship to their partners," explained Jonathan Helm, a doctoral student at the University of California, Davis and the lead author of the study, in a statement. "Her heart rate is linked to her partner's. I think it means women have a strong link to their partners-perhaps more empathy."

The researchers also mixed the data to match up the heart and breathing rates of people who were not romantically involved. They found that their heart rates did not closely match, and their breathing rates were not in sync.

The studies were published in two different journals: Emotion and the International Journal of Psychophysiology.

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