Happy Valentine’s Day, all! Since February 14th has rolled around yet again, we would like to offer some highlights covering the latest in neuroscience research as it relates to love, affection, romance, and (almost) everything in between.
“Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.” -Jules Renard
What happens when you first fall in love? What’s going on in your brain after years of marriage? And how can neuroscience help you redefine your date nights to improve your relationship? You may want to start with our 5-part series of articles about your brain in love:
- Part 1: When Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
- Part 2: Love and Marriage
- Part 3: The Neuroscience of Date Night
- Part 4: Oxytocin, the Love/Hate Hormone
- Part 5: No Room for Romance? Try Music Instead… but not Junk Food
Or, you can read the whole thing in one piece here.
“Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?” -Unknown
Perhaps you’d rather see what’s happening in your love-sick brain, instead of just reading about it. This is a wonderful and informative graphic from Scientific American showing the regions of the brain and what happens when your synapses and neurotransmitters get all fired up by romance.
“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house you can never tell.” -Joan Crawford
Can a brain scan predict whether you and your new squeeze will stay together forever? A research team fron Stonybrook University thinks they have found the answers using MRI technology. Find out how it works.
“Chemistry can be a good and bad thing. Chemistry is good when you make love with it. Chemistry is bad when you make crack with it.” -Adam Sandler
Cupid may have had a better track record if he’d laced his arrows with oxytocin. This bonding hormone has long been implicated in forming connections between people, and several new studies are looking at whether oxytocin can be applied as needed to give couples a boost.
“The four most important words in any marriage…’I’ll do the dishes.'” -Unknown
If you want to keep love alive, research shows that you should put the needs of your mate above your own, and perform lots of little kindnesses for them. Another research study suggests that you can amp up the amour in your relationship by traveling to exotic places with your loved one.
“Let’s temporarily avoid each other’s blogs, tweets and Facebook updates so we have something to talk about on our date.” -Someecards.com
But whatever you do, don’t share too much about your personal and love life on social networks. Science says that can be a real romance-killer.
“People say you can’t live without love. But I think oxygen is more important.” -Unknown
If you’re stressed out, falling in love will only make it worse, but being in love (i.e., in a long-term relationship) can help balance you out and reduce stress levels. The caveat, of course, is that it has to be a healthy, positive relationship or it won’t work too well. But you probably could have guessed that.
“Forget love, I’d rather fall in chocolate.” -Sandra J. Dykes
Are there really certain foods that have aphrodisiac qualities?
“Think size matters? That’s just the preoptic area of your hypothalamaus talking.” – Liz Langley
I would be remiss not to at least mention your brain’s involvement in sex. Luckily Liz Langley of Salon has written a great article called “10 Ways the Brain Dictates Sex” so I think she’s pretty much got that topic covered.
“An archeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.” -Agatha Christie
And finally, just for fun, here is a lovely and funny story about a couple who is still happily married after 71 years together. Gerontologist and author Karl Pillemer has been collecting stories, data, and advice from hundreds of older Americans for his research. We recommended his book, 30 Lessons in Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.
What did I miss? And what’s your favorite funny quote about love, marriage, dating, or Valentine’s Day?