The Science of Love and Whom We Choose

For Valentine’s Week, a few love related features.

Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist who writes extensively about love and attraction.She has conducted fMRI studies on the brains of people in love. Fisher maintains that humans have evolved three core brain systems for mating and reproduction: lust, romantic attraction, and attachment to a long term partner. Fisher and her colleagues have put 49 people into a brain scanner (fMRI) to study the brain circuitry of romantic love: 17 had just fallen madly in love; 15 had just been dumped; 17 reported they were still in love after an average of 21 years of marriage. One of her central ideas is that romantic love is a drive stronger than the sex drive.

Lust, Romance & Attachment: The Science of Love and Whom We Choose

Digital Age Dating

As internet dating gains popularity, millions of singles are turning over huge amounts of personal data to computers, hoping that an algorithm will find them the perfect mate. A podcast by blogger Christian Rudder explains how all that data can reveal some interesting—and often funny—facts about the sex lives of humans online.

Matchmaking in the Digital Age
(From NY Academy of Sciences)

Chocolate and Wine for Eternal Youth?

The search for a mechanism to slow aging and prolong life has been pursued all though human history; literature is filled with references to a “fountain of youth” that could keep us in the prime of our lives. While scientists have made great strides in treating and curing disease, little is known about how to increase longevity in an otherwise healthy individual. Until recently, research into the mechanisms underlying aging and longevity has been regarded as “pseudoscience.” Recent research suggests that perhaps chocolate and wine can be good for you and make you look younger. A few years ago, resveratrol—a compound found in red wine and dark chocolate—made a splash in the news as an anti-aging wonder. Although resveratrol may offer health benefits and has shown some signs of affecting longevity in laboratory models, research is only in its early stages.

The Science Behind the Hype: Resveratrol in Wine & Chocolate

The Science of Love

There are three phases to falling in love and different hormones are involved at each stage.

  • Events occurring in the brain when we are in love have similarities with mental illness.
  • When we are attracted to somebody, it could be because subconsciously we like their genes.
  • Smell could be as important as looks when it comes to the fanciability factor. We like the look and smell of people who are most like our parents.
  • Science can help determine whether a relationship will last.

Read more from the BBC