TED TALK: Helen Fisher studies the brain in love

Ted Talk

Helen Fisher: the brain in love

37 people who are madly in love into a functional MRI brain scanner.
1. 17 who are happily in love
2. 15 who had just been dumped
3. Studying people who claim to be in love after 25 years of marriage.

Guatemala temples
Built by grandest sun Mayan king (Jasaw Chan K’awii) to honor his wife, whom he was deeply in love with his wife. His wife’s temple was facing his, and every spring and autumn exactly at the equinox the sun rises behind his temple at perfectly bathes her temple with his shadow. Additioanly, as the sun sets in the afternoon it perfectly bathes his temple with her shadow.
After 1300 years, these lovers still kiss and touch from their tomb.

People love. they write stories, poems, music etc. about love. They pine for love, they die for love, they kill for love, they die for love.

Anthropology of love
evidence of love has been found in 170 societies around the world, no single society was found that did not have it.

Love isn’t always a happy experience
1. Have you ever been rejected by someone who you really loved?
2. Have you every dumped somebody who you really loved you?
95% of both men and women said yes to both questions.
Nobody gets out of love alive.

The most powerful love poem on earth (told by an anon. Kwakuti Indian of southern Alaska to a missionary in 1896)
Fire runs through my body with the pain of loving you
Pain runs through my body with the fires of my love for you
Pain like a boil about to burst with my love for you
Consumed by fire of my love for you
I remember what you said to me,
I am thinking of your love for me.
I am torn by your love for me.
Pain and more pain.
Where are you going with my love?
I’m told you will go from here.
I’m told you will leave me here.
My body is numb with grief.
Remember what I said My Love
Goodbye My Love, goodbye.

“Parting is all we need to know of hell” Emilie Dickinson

How many people have suffered over the millions of years of evolution?
How many people are dancing in elation at this very minute?
Romantic love is one of the most powerful sensation on earth.

Experiment 1: Look in to the brain to study the madness of love
Ventral tegmental area: tiny factor near the base of the brain. Activity was found in the a10 cells which produce dopamine (a natural stimulant) and spray it to many brain regions.
The VTA is part of the brain reward system, and it is way below the cognitive thinking process, blow emotions. The VTA is part of the reptilian core of the brain, which is associated with WANTING, MOTIVATION, FOCUS, CRAVIN.
This same regions is active when an individual feels the rush of Cocaine. But romantic love is much more that a cocaine high, since you come down from a cocaine high.
Romantic love is an obsession. It possess you. You lose your sense of self, you can’t stop thinking about another this other person (somebody is camping in your head).
“My longing had no time when it ceases”. 8th century Japanese poet
Wild is love. The obsession can get worse when you’ve been rejected.

Experiment 2: looking at people who had just been dumped.
Activity was found in three brain regions
1. VTA: Same region active during intense romantic love. (you don’t forget them, you just love them harder).
“The less my hope, the hotter my love” Roman poet Terence.
This region of Want, motivation, focus and craving becomes more active when you can’t get what you want.
2. Core of Nucleus Accumbens: Brain region associated with calculating gains and losses. Also the brain region that becomes active when you’re willing to take enormous risks for huge gains and huge losses
Becomes very active as your measuring your gains and losses of you lost love.
3. Region associated with deep attachment to another individual.
No wonder people suffer around the world and we have so many crimes of passion.

When you have been rejected in love you are engulfed with feelings of romantic love, but you are feeling deep attachment to this individual , at the same time the brain circuit for reward is working and your feeling intense energy, intense focus, intense motivation and willingness to risk it all to win life’s greatest prize.

Conclusion of experiments
1. Romantic love is a drive. a basic mating drive.
Romantic love enables you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time, conserve your mating energy and start the mating process with this single individual.
Sex drive is different , which makes you go out looking for a whole range of partners)
“The god of love lives in a state of need” PLATO.
Love is a need, an urge, a homeostatic imbalance, live hunger and thirst, it’s almost impossible to stamp out.
2. Romantic love is an addiction
A perfectly wonderful addition when all goes well, and a perfectly horrible addition when its going poorly.
Love has all the characteristic of addiction: you focus on the person, you obsessively think about them, you crave them, you distort reality, your willingness to take enormous risks to win this person.
Love has the three main characteristics of addiction:
a. Tolerance: you need to see more and more and more
b. Withdrawals.
c. Relapse.

“Romantic love is one the most addictive substances on earth”.

Animals love. There is not an animal on this planet that will copulate with anything that comes along. Looking at a hundred species, everywhere in the wild animals have favorites.
Ethologists have eight words for animal favoritism: Selective proceptivity ,Mate choice , Female choice, Sexual choice etc…
There are three published articles that tackle animal attraction and the reward system .

Understanding the science of love will not spoil it for you.
“When you sit down and eat that cake you can still feel that joy”.

Experiment 3: Studying love in people who have been in a long-term relationship using fMRI
Same conclusion, the brain areas associated with intense romantic love still become active 25 years later.

Why do you fall in love with one person rather than another?
We tend to fall in love with people from the same
1. socioeconomic background,
2. level of intelligence,
3. general level of good looks
4. religious values
5. childhood experiences (not entirely understood how)

But how do two personalities fit together to make a good relationship?
Maybe your biology pulls you towards some people rather than another.
Questionnaire: CHEMISTRY.com  to see to what degree dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, testosterone are expressed.
Four very board personality types are based on the ratios of these four brain chemicals.

In the next few years we will understand the brain mechanism that pulls us to one person rather than another.

“The past is not dead, it’s not even the past” Faulkner

Intimacy to women
FACE TO FACE TALK. Swivel towards each other and do the anchoring gaze. Probably evolved of millions of years of holding the baby, cajoling it, reprimanding it, educating it with words.

Intimacy to men
SIDE BY SIDE DOING. As soon as one guy looks up, the other guy looks away. Probably evolved from millions of years sitting behind the bush looking straight ahead trying to hunt. Over millions of years, men faced their enemies and sat side by side with their friends.

Love is in us, it is deeply channeled in out brains.

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