The Brain in Love

shutterstock_94532341Love exists in vastly different societies around the world. It occupies our mind and drives us to create art, write stories, and even commit acts of violence. Religion, values, and other cultural factors influence who we select as a partner. During a talk at the Secret Science Club, a science lecture series held at the Bell House in Brooklyn, Helen Fisher, Ph.D., asked “Are we naturally drawn to some people for biological as well as cultural reasons?”

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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 dana.org.

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Image: Beatriz Gascon J/Shutterstock

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New Brainwave Series: Emotion

Can consciousness continue after the brain stops working? Why do we seem to let emotions outshine reason during the decision-making process? Which neural impulses trigger laughter?

Rubin Museum Brainwave 2016

Detail from White Tara with Long Life Deities; eastern Tibet; 19th century; pigments on cloth; Rubin Museum of Art, gift of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; F1996.32.5 (HAR 542) | Copyright Taylor Walken/Corbis

Beginning in February, New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art will host its ninth annual Brainwave series, which aims to answer these questions and more. Continue reading

The Biology of Love: Who We Choose and Why

Valentine’s Day inspires a post about someone who has dedicated her career to studying the science behind attraction and desire. For more than thirty years, Helen Fisher, Ph.D., has studied the link between brain chemistry and romantic love, in hopes of better understanding the patterns that occur when human beings choose their mates.

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From the Archives: Love and Lust in the Brain

Since love is on the brain today, it seemed the perfect opportunity to look back at Dana’s articles on love, lust, and attraction. The selected articles span more than a decade, and included in the mix is a Cerebrum piece from Rutgers’ anthropologist Helen Fisher, who is something of a go-to love expert for the media and is sure to be quoted in numerous articles today.

Brains Do It: Lust, Attraction, and Attachment
By Helen E. Fisher
January 01, 2000  

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

Neurobiology Affects Love and Attraction
By Kathlyn Stone
January 02, 2009  

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 10, 2011

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

Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Ann L. Whitman

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