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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Biology of Love

Scientists who have been researching how the human brain operates when a person is in love have concluded that there are three distinct brain system for mating and reproduction - lust, romantic love and long term attachment.

Each of these systems is associated with distinct hormone activity that cause specific feelings and behavioural changes in lovers. When you think of love in terms of these three systems, it makes it easier to follow what stage a person is in and to better understand their actions.

Love has been shown to be the result of a specific group chemicals and brain circuits working in specific areas of the brain. In simple scientific terms, love is triggered by a combination of brain chemicals, including dopamine, oxytocin, testosterone, oestrogen and norepinephrine; in much the same way, these chemicals drive other mammals to find suitable partners. Once our brain has identified a suitable partner based on certain criteria, the brain goes into overdrive to rpoduce the chemicals necessary to create the environment to attract that person.

Throughout human history, marriages were an arranged event based on wealth, status, family rivalries, tribal groups and politics. Today, this approach has generally dissppeared and most people now marry for love.

When it comes to mate selection, humans focus their attention on just one person. This distinguishes them from most other animals. A courting male pigeon, for example, will puff up his feathers and approach as many potential partners as his energy will allow. Humans, however, usually have a shortlist of candidates but intensely target just one.



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