The Brain In Love

The Brain in love.

You arrive at your buddies house for a barbecue, six pack and bratwurst in hand. It is a spring day and you are still glad that lawn mowing is more needed than snow shoveling. You begin to make your rounds, greeting old friends, insulting their sports allegiances and perhaps their politics as only guys do to guys.

And then your eyes meet hers.

What just happened and do you have a chance?

According to the research of Helen Fisher, Ph.D., for the guy brain, based on what you saw, a two very primtive areas of the reward system in your brain filled up with blood, and since there are a great number or receptors for dopamine there, you felt pleasure and desire.

All that happened in 1/18th second, or faster, and the course of your life may have just changed.

From an interview with Professor Fisher by Christine Ball;

Did you find any brain differences between your male and female subjects?

Many of the same brain regions became active in both sexes. In fact, men fall in love faster than women do. But we did find some gender differences: Men tended to show more activity in brain regions associated with the integration of visual stimuli, and with penile erection. Women tended, instead, to show more activity in regions associated with emotion, attention and recalling memories.

Actually, these gender differences make pretty good evolutionary sense. Ancestral men needed to see if a woman showed visual signs of youth and health, signs that she would bear him healthy babies. And when a man saw a good reproductive partner, it would have been adaptive for him to become sexually aroused--to start the mating process. But a woman can't “size up” a man just by looking at him. A woman needs a good provider and protector. So an ancestral woman needed to remember all the things a mating partner had done for her, what he had given her and what he had promised. No wonder women in love evolved the tendency to activate brain circuits for remembering. In fact, women still remember many more of the details of a love affair than men do."

So now you know the why of this particular process and some of the gender particulars, is there any way to regulate or manage it once it begins?

Or do you just succumb, or run?

" Fisher uses the results of the exciting study she conducted with colleagues to argue that romantic passion is, in fact, hardwired into our brains. Most important, Fisher reveals that love is not an emotion but a physiological drive as powerful as hunger."

Well, hunger is pretty powerful, and drives do motivate behavior.

Once the drive is cued, then the emotions follow.

But is there any advantage to having knowledge of how your brain is on love? Again, from Professor Fisher, "Well, I have loved and won and loved and lost. I certainly know the ecstasy and despair of romantic love. But I think that learning about romantic love has given me some advantages. I certainly feel more informed, and for reasons I can't explain, more secure. I can anticipate some of the behavior of others and I have some tools to deal with various situations. And I know more about how to trigger love and how to make it last. Disadvantages? Well, perhaps I am more realistic, if you want to call that a disadvantage. But one thing I am positive about – knowing about love will never kill the passion."

If you are serious about managing this powerful emotional experience, then take advantage of Professor Fisher's work at

Brain in Love Model

Professor Fisher has created a model, based on her fMRI analysis of human brains which she says can minimize some of the variables in the mating game, making it possible for us to experience a less demoralizing trajectory through the infatuation to mature love process.

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