Harvard study online dating
While we can certainly lust for someone we are attracted to, and vice versa, one can happen without the other.
Attraction involves the brain pathways that control “reward” behavior (Figure 1), which partly explains why the first few weeks or months of a relationship can be so exhilarating and even all-consuming.
Lust and attraction shut off the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which includes rational behavior.
Meanwhile, attraction seems to be a distinct, though closely related, phenomenon.
In fact, norepinephrine, also known as noradrenalin, may sound familiar because it plays a large role in the fight or flight response, which kicks into high gear when we’re stressed and keeps us alert.
Brain scans of people in love have actually shown that the primary “reward” centers of the brain, including the and the caudate nucleus (Figure 1), fire like crazy when people are shown a photo of someone they are intensely attracted to, compared to when they are shown someone they feel neutral towards (like an old high school acquaintance).
While lust and attraction are pretty much exclusive to romantic entanglements, attachment mediates friendships, parent-infant bonding, social cordiality, and many other intimacies as well.
B and C: Dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin are all made in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that controls many vital functions as well as emotion.
D: Several of the regions of the brain that affect love.
Google the phrase “biology of love” and you’ll get answers that run the gamut of accuracy.
Needless to say, the scientific basis of love is often sensationalized, and as with most science, we don’t know enough to draw firm conclusions about every piece of the puzzle.
It’s no surprise that, for centuries, people thought love (and most other emotions, for that matter) arose from the heart.