From the Archives: Valentine Reading List

Since talk of love is all the rage this week, let’s look back at a few of our past articles on love and attachment. First up is a Cerebrum essay by Rutgers anthropologist Helen Fisher that — after 15 years — is still on our Top 10 list of most-popular pages on

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Image: Beatriz Gascon J/Shutterstock

Brains Do It: Lust, Attraction, and Attachment 
By Helen E. Fisher, January 2000  

With classic understatement, Fisher suggests that the three emotional systems—lust, attraction, and attachment—“are somewhat disconnected in human beings…” But the situation is not hopeless, she argues; the role of the prefrontal cortex in humans is to control and direct these emotions—if we so choose.

Feeling Our Way: The Challenge of Studying Emotion and the Brain

By Kayt Sukel, January 2016

While we’re learning how important emotional input is to nearly every aspect of cognition, behavior, and disease, understanding how that works exactly is a tangled puzzle.

One Molecule for Love, Trust, and Morality? Separating Hype from Hope in the Oxytocin Research Explosion

By Brenda Patoine, April 2013

“There’s a lot of ‘neurojunk’ around oxytocin,” says Dana Alliance member Patricia Churchland in this roundup of recent research and reporting on the molecule. “There is a misperception to the effect that by increasing levels of oxytocin, you make people more pro-social, more altruistic, nicer, kinder, and so forth. The evidence for that is really shockingly thin.”

Neurobiology Affects Love and Attraction
By Kathlyn Stone, December 2008

Research presented at the 2008 Society for Neuroscience meeting revealed aspects of what happens in the brain of someone feeling intense love, as well as the sensory and molecular processes involved in love and mating.

The Chemistry of Love: In Search of the Elusive Human Pheromones
By Brenda Patoine, February 2009

Chemical messages wafting off other people’s bodies clearly influence sexual attraction and mating behavior in humans. Just don’t call them pheromones – yet. 

The Brain Signature of Love
By Kayt Sukel, February 2011

Neuroscientists are demonstrating that romantic love is represented by a unique pattern of activation in the brain.

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