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Love's all in the brain: fMRI study shows strong, lateralized reward, not sex, drive

nderlying physiology of stalking behavior," she added.

Fisher noted that their study, which took barely an hour for each participant but many years for the researchers to process and interpret the data, also found a "fascinating continuity between human romantic love and the physiological expressions of attraction in other animals. Other scientists," she said, "have reported that expressions of attraction in a female prairie vole are associated with a 50% increase in dopamine activity in a brain region related to regions where we found activity. These and other data indicate that all mammals may feel attraction to specific partners, and that some of the same brain systems are involved."

Study explains second half of Darwin's puzzle, sexual selection & 'eyes of the beholder'

"Darwin and many of his intellectual descendants have studied the myriad physiological ornaments that one sex of a species have evolved to attract members of the opposite sex, like the peacock's fancy tail feathers that attract the peahen," Fisher noted. "But no one has studied what happened in the brain of the viewer, the individual that becomes attracted to these traits. Our study indicates what happens in the brain of the viewer as he or she becomes physiologically attracted to these traits."

She added, "This brain system probably evolved for an important reason to drive our forebears to focus their courtship energy on specific individuals, thereby conserving precious mating time and energy. Perhaps," she hypothesized, "even love-at-first-sight is a basic mammalian response that developed in other animals and our ancestors inherited in order to speed up the mating process."

Einstein's Brown concluded, "Our results suggest that romantic love does not use a functionally specialized brain system. It may be produced, instead, by a constellation of neural systems that converge onto widespread regions of the caudate where there is a flexible
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31-May-2005


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