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The Science of Love

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the gonna-have-to-face-it-you're-addicted-to-love dept.

Science 315

Xyde writes "Economist.com has a story just in time for Valentine's day called 'The Science of Love'. Presumably the difference between love and lust is little more than a bunch of chemicals, which can be controlled with injections (in voles anyway). Quite an interesting read."

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I LIKE TO PUNCH BABIES IN THE FACE! BABYPUNCHING! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281254)

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/______\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)_______|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\______/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Ceren, be my valentine! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281259)

Is it any wonder people think Linux [debian.org] users are a bunch of flaming homosexuals [lemonparty.org] when its fronted by obviously gay losers [nylug.org] like these?! BSD [dragonflybsd.org] has a mascot [freebsd.org] who leaves us in no doubt that this is the OS for real men! If Linux had more hot chicks [hope-2000.org] and gorgeous babes [hope-2000.org] then maybe it would be able to compete with BSD [openbsd.org] ! Hell this girl [electricrain.com] should be a model!

Linux [gentoo.org] is a joke as long as it continues to lack sexy girls like her [dis.org] ! I mean just look at this girl [dis.org] ! Doesn't she [dis.org] excite you? I know this little hottie [dis.org] puts me in need of a cold shower! This guy looks like he is about to cream his pants standing next to such a fox [spilth.org] . As you can see, no man can resist this sexy [spilth.org] little minx [dis.org] . I mean are you telling me you wouldn't like to get your hands on this ass [dis.org] ?! Wouldn't this [electricrain.com] just make your Christmas?! Yes doctor, this uber babe [electricrain.com] definitely gets my pulse racing! Oh how I envy the lucky girl in this [electricrain.com] shot! Linux [suse.com] has nothing that can possibly compete. Come on, you must admit she [imagewhore.com] is better than an overweight penguin [tamu.edu] or a gay looking goat [gnu.org] ! Wouldn't this [electricrain.com] be more liklely to influence your choice of OS?

With sexy chicks [minions.com] like the lovely Ceren [dis.org] you could have people queuing up to buy open source products. Could you really refuse to buy a copy of BSD [netbsd.org] if she [dis.org] told you to? Don't you wish you could get one of these [drexel.edu] ? Personally I know I would give my right arm to get this close [dis.org] to such a divine beauty [czarina.org] !

Don't be a fag [gay-sex-access.com] ! Join the campaign [slashdot.org] for more cute [pipboy2002.mine.nu] open source babes [pipboy2002.mine.nu] today!

Re:Ceren, be my valentine! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281308)

What's the deal with all the latex shit? Bet she looks better in a nice dress or jeans.

Re:Ceren, be my valentine! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281473)

What are you talking about, the latex outfit is the
best!

Re:Ceren, be my valentine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281519)

The women who look good in latex outfits are usually of the 'cheap bitch' type, not the 'cute girl' type.

I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NOW (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281462)

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281481)

Take this test [zipperfish.com] and tell me what your score was.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281496)

I think you meant to reply to the original poster, not me.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281501)

Nope, I meant you, because you seem to be really bad at guessing peoples' ages.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281516)

I'm not the one posting pics of a 9 year old girl in a devil outfit.

At least the Linux chicks are of age.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281530)

But you obviously can't tell a 9 year old from a 24 year old.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281533)

24 years old? Surreee.

Tell that to the FBI agent knocking on your door, pedo.

You better hide evidence of your nerco-BSD fetish too, becuase thats just as bad.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281569)

Sigh. Well, enjoy hitting on elderly women then, if that's your thing.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281576)

You just heard it here, folks.

A BSD user considers anyone of legal age to be "elderly".

So disgusting.

Re:I'm calling the FBI - Stop posting pedo pics NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281592)

Well, I don't know how to make it more clear: Ceren Ercen is in her mid-twenties, therefore totally legal, and you should probably be looking at these pictures [grannypictures.com] as you don't seem to like nice young women.

YHBT YHL HAND (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281636)

foad

a love shot? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281267)

i think someone needs to give that to my girlfriend, right now she hates me. ha.

No thank you! (5, Funny)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281268)

I don't know about you.. but you won't catch me going to any doctor asking for a love injection!

Re:No thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281401)

oh my god, for the millionth time it's viruses, not virii!!!

Re:No thank you! (1, Funny)

Patik (584959) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281409)

you won't catch me going to any doctor asking for a love injection!
You don't get love injections at the doctor's office, you get them at the state prison.

Re:No thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281419)

what about inside the doctor's office of the state prison?

Re:No thank you! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281439)

whoever just modded this down is a fat, grumpy, self-pitying VIRGIN

The heck with injections (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281448)

Q: What's the difference between a dog and a fox?

A: A sixpack.

"Alcohol: Helping men get sex for thousands of years."

Re:The heck with injections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281458)

no thanks, i prefer female human beings, you freak.

It's self-administered... (4, Interesting)

The Tyro (247333) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281498)

for some people, particularly women. Interesting to note that the article mentions oxytocin as one of the chemicals that promotes person to person binding... yet they fail to mention breast-feeding.

Mothers who advocate breast feeding often say that it's a bonding experience for them and their baby... perhaps they're more right than they know, since Oxytocin is released in the human body by nipple stimulation.

If Oxytocin truly promotes interpersonal bonding in people, that opens up all kinds of interesting avenues of research.

Re:It's self-administered... (0, Flamebait)

zepher-109 (650844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281520)

they are talking about the chemicals in this article, the actions that produce those chemicals are of no importance. so, just inject oxytocin and it's the same effect as breast feeding, there was no need to mention it.

Great news. (5, Funny)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281271)

Injections cause love? This is great news! Finally, the victim i keep in my basement *will* love me.

Re:Great news. (2, Funny)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281296)

> the victim i keep in my basement *will* love me.
Don't you love yourself already? ;)

Future designer drug (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281279)

I would love to get my hands on the human version of the lust-drug... When my girlfriend is sleeping, I could hit her with a fatty IM injection of 'lust drug' and MDMA... :) yum

Ah, valentines day. (5, Funny)

sparklingfruit (736978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281280)

The one day of the year where I am not the tarket market.

Love injection? No need. Attractiveness injection? Now there's a seller.

Re:Ah, valentines day. (0, Flamebait)

yacineparis.com (716614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281500)

By the way, do nice-looking geeks exist?

Do it yourself (5, Funny)

Lucky Kevin (305138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281282)

But don't all guys give love injections?

Soviet Russia (-1, Flamebait)

husker_man (473297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281283)

In Soviet Russia, chemicals rule YOU!

(I know, rather lame, but it had to be done)

I would give half my life (-1, Flamebait)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281286)

for anything that makes any young girl to love me

Re:I would give half my life (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281335)

You fucking pedophile.

Re:I would give half my life (2, Funny)

Kehl (663202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281379)

Lollipops and candy usually work for me!

Followed by ..... would you like to see my puppies =)

Re:I would give half my life (1)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281395)

i meant 15-30 years old :o)

Re:I would give half my life (1)

AhBeeDoi (686955) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281528)

I don't care what the weather is like, keep your raincoat on.

Re:I would give half my life (0, Troll)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281421)

i wanna marry anh have children desperatelly :o(

Re:I would give half my life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281457)

who are you Michael Jackson?

Re:I would give half my life (1)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281466)

why the hell michael jackson? who is that?

Re:I would give half my life (1)

Morologous (201459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281580)

Based on your spelling I would recommend that you do not procreate.

Re:I would give half my life (0, Troll)

yacineparis.com (716614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281538)

Rape me, rape me my friend
Rape me, rape me again
Im not the only one (4x)
Hate me
Do it And do it Again
Waste me
Rape me, my friend
Im not the only one (4x)

My favorite inside source
I'll kiss your open sores
Appreciate your concern
You'll always stink and burn...

Re:I would give half my life (0, Offtopic)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281577)

hell how is that flamebait?

Utah (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281288)

As Dr Fisher explains, "you can feel deep attachment for a long-term spouse, while you feel romantic love for someone else, while you feel the sex drive in situations unrelated to either partner." This independence means it is possible to love more than one person at a time, a situation that leads to jealousy, adultery and divorce--though also to the possibilities of promiscuity and polygamy, with the likelihood of extra children, and thus a bigger stake in the genetic future, that those behaviours bring. As Dr Fisher observes, "We were not built to be happy but to reproduce."

Ah, that explains politics in Utah.

Re:Utah (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281508)

Now I know what is "wrong" with me :)

My dark side is saying.... (-1, Troll)

maroberts (15852) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281291)

[evil twisted thought] ..why use rohypnol when you could slip this cocktail into someones drink and have them believe they were in love with you, and behaving normally?
[/evil twisted thought]

this is new? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281300)

duh! where's the news? I know girls love to be injected by me... I am after all a slashdot reading nerd :)

Presumably? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281305)

My first assumption would be that there is no difference between love and lust.

Great news. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281306)

Injections cause love? This is great news! Finally I can love my abductor, Conner, who's keeping me in his basement.

Re:Great news. (2, Funny)

dzym (544085) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281412)

But first you must put the lotion in the fucking basket.

Re:Great news. (1)

Surlyboi (96917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281632)

Not the hose again!

just in time (5, Funny)

elcausado (733047) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281310)

...has a story just in time for Valentine's day called...


Its amazing how research these days has such a superb sense of timing. ;-)

A poem. (5, Funny)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281314)

Found in fortune file.

Tell me why the stars do shine
Tell me why the ivy twines
Tell me why the sky's so blue
And I will tell you why I love you.

Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine
Phototropism makes ivy twine
Rayleigh Scattering makes sky so blue
Sexual hormones are why I love you.

We better update it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281624)

Tell me why the stars do shine
Tell me why the ivy twines
Tell me why the sky's so blue
And I will tell you why I love you.

Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine
Phototropism makes ivy twine
Rayleigh Scattering makes sky so blue
// Sexual hormones are why I love you.
oxytocin and vasopressin are why I love you.

I find it kind of frightening (5, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281315)

How long before some conservative mad scientist :) releases a retrovirus which makes us all pair-bond for life, inescapably? If I were still with my first love, I'd have to fucking kill myself now.

Re:I find it kind of frightening (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281371)

Troll

Re:I find it kind of frightening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281398)

What's to stop said virus from creating a homosexual pair-bond?

The difference between love and lust ... (5, Funny)

gunix (547717) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281316)

Well, this axiom holds...

Attraction = Lust + i*Love

Lust is the "real" part, and "Love" is the imaginary part.

Re:The difference between love and lust ... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281406)

No wonder attraction is so complex!

Re:The difference between love and lust ... (2, Funny)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281487)

It's a strange attractor.....

Re:The difference between love and lust ... (4, Funny)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281467)

By this equation,
e ^ (0 + i(pi)) = -1
which proves that love is detrimental.

Re:The difference between love and lust ... (0, Offtopic)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281526)

Attraction = Lust + i*Love

Heh.

That's a good one! I've got to keep that in mind the next time I'm lecturing quantum mechanics and have to remind people about complex numbers.

I'm not sure... (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281319)

...I'm ready to accept the idea that voles are capable of what we call "love", no matter what you inject them with. Even in humans, mating for life and loving someone aren't necessarily the same thing.

windows source code (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281320)

just thought it might be useful information to post that not only have windows 2000 and nt 4 source codes been leaked, but there is a partial set of one of the recent longhorn builds doing the rounds too.

edonkey/overnet url:

ed2k://|file|windows longhorn build 4008 source code (partial) .rar|1357906140|dba2a19a3c822837ad6ade3b7f178862|

peace,

rexnor

Why on earth would I want . . . (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281323)

an enamored vole following me around?

KFG

Silly. Think: Mare! (2, Funny)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281366)

Although, when she's in heat, you'd rather wish her to stop, as this can get quite exhausting, but just in case...

Re:Why on earth would I want . . . (4, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281553)

an enamored vole following me around?

Enamored vole: The self-propelled snack!

Hot beef injections (-1, Offtopic)

wantedman (577548) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281325)

Welcome to 5 years ago.

I've already discovered that women love my hot beef injections.

Definition of economics (5, Insightful)

azzy (86427) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281327)

I remember back at school when I studied economics, the textbook claimed the definition to be: The study of human behaviour. I suppose that people being in love, that it affects their behaviour.. means that it falls into the definition of economics.. that and the extend to which valentines day is now just a market driven spend spend spend event.

Do these injections... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281336)

...have to be administered directly to the cardiac muscle? If so, that would explain Cupid's strange behavior.

Strategy B (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281349)

Me: "Boss, please don't send my job to India."

[Poke!]

Boss: "Oww! What was that?.....Don't worry darling, you are safe with me."

Re:Strategy B (1)

abes (82351) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281415)

And then comes Plan B [go2planb.com] to deal with the after effects.

Whom Do You Love? (5, Insightful)

Kehl (663202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281353)

Ok you get your Spouse a love injection but how does that tie there love to you?
Imagine waking up one morning only to find shes ran off with the milkman! :/

Re:Whom Do You Love? (2, Informative)

Dr Tall (685787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281388)

I would think you're supposed to administer it while you're out at dinner together or having sex, etc.

Screw love (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281354)

I rather see an article on the science of casual sex.

Animal abuse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281372)

These scientists might want to study something with a bigger orifice. I think its animal abuse to sell these 'love voles' to people.

Some great new spam! (5, Funny)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281386)

(i am not trolling i don't think)

Are you one of the 80% of men who has a lower than average ability to get your partner to fall in love? Well boy do we have a product for you! Liagra! With Liagra you can finally get both your secretary and your wife to love you and each other!! only 6 easy payments of $49.95!

i wonder how long before we see this

er... (5, Funny)

xankar (710025) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281393)

wait, i thought beer was already invented.

Seduction (5, Interesting)

zensufi (743379) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281408)

Well, there are sites such as fastseduction.com [fastseduction.com] that provide guides [pickupguide.com] that are based upon the premise that lust and love are remarkably similar and can be installed in people by using using certain patterns of behavior. Click, whirr, anyone? [google.com]

The ultimate love chemical.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281423)

...Is the ink they print money with.

Re:The ultimate love chemical.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281486)

somehow i dont think paiting yourself with ink will get the girls all over you

Sounds like a Kiss song (1, Funny)

fsandford (572423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281432)

"Calling Dr. Love, I got the cure your thinking of" Sorry, I may be too old.

Genes versus moral choice (5, Insightful)

Nakito (702386) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281440)

Here is a key empirical observation from the article: Mating between prairie voles is a tremendous 24-hour effort. After this, they bond for life.... However, another vole, a close relative called the montane vole, has no interest in partnership beyond one-night-stand sex. What is intriguing is that these vast differences in behaviour are the result of a mere handful of genes. The two vole species are more than 99% alike, genetically.

Imagine the implications for churches if it turns out that fidelity is based on genetic propensities rather than moral choice. On the other hand, if the concept of "original sin" is to be believed, perhaps that is what they have been saying all along.

What about the voles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281449)

(wont somebody please think of the voles?)

I know this is tongue-in-cheek article, but ... (5, Insightful)

Richard Allen (213475) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281472)

I'm not sure I'd draw the same conclusions as the author here. They start off by saying that sex will enduce certain chemicals which will in turn help to cause a feeling of lust or love in the voles. Then they go on to say if they inject certain chemicals in voles, it will cause them to "fall in love". But people (believe it or not) often fall in love sometimes without having sex. In other words, their thoughts produce the chemicals, which obviously is opposite of saying the chemicals produce the thoughts. It's a which comes first, the chicken or the egg problem. I think injecting chemicals in people would produce the euphoric state they mention in the article, but there needs to be thought processes along side of that to produce love.

I'm probably missing something here from their logic. Please correct me if so. Thanks.

Re:I know this is tongue-in-cheek article, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281542)

Easy, You need to fall in love, your brain then if the oportuny araise throw a lot of chemicals, and kaboom, you are in love. Then Sex and everything else, its like a paycheck for the trouble. (because if you dont get sex quickly you wont continue with the effort thats why the love thing). Oh well i dont care.

Re:I know this is tongue-in-cheek article, but ... (4, Insightful)

Requiem Aristos (152789) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281561)

It's a feedback loop; thoughts producing chemicals and chemicals producing thoughts are not mutually exclusive events. You can have both; it's like a program that can edit its code while running.

To take another topic, you can feel depressed because of the right (wrong?) chemicals in your brain. You could also feel depressed if you think thoughts that create those same chemicals. To "cure" depression, you could inject chemicals to balance things out, or you could think thoughts that do the same thing. The injection technique is likely more effective for many.

Maybe too far.. (5, Insightful)

TimTurnip (560651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281489)

I'm as interested in science as the next geek. I'm stoked that I understand that lightning is a result of static, and not God striking down his wrath...I'm also happy that I'm not worried about California falling off into the ocean, thanks to Ms. Schneider's geology teaching.

But this might be going a little too far. Love is one of those things that I'm comfortable not understanding - and uncomfortable understanding.

Call me crazy...but I'm happy knowing that I love my fiancee, and thinking that it's because of her humor/mannerisms/beauty/etc.

love is chemical (2, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281502)

The difference betwen Windows and Linux is just the order and quantity of bits in RAM. Every human experience is just the difference of a few chemicals in the brain. But why go to such lengths, when love (or lust) can be injected into your target with $10 of organic chemicals, inserted as flowers into her hands? Try it today, in a cocktail therapy with labial skin molecules applied topically.

"When I see the way you paint your lips
and I smell your perfume
when I see the brand new color
that you've dyed your hair, too
I know, you know, it's more than physical
My love, my love, my love, love is chemical"
- Lou Reed, "My Love Is Chemical" [tiki.ne.jp]

(my love is chimerical)

What about homosexuals? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281506)

why are some of us so attracted to other men, but when we see a suposedly hot woman, we feel nothing?

gnaa

HOMOPHOBIA?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281558)

why was this modded down? I'm not a gay person, but I have nothing against gay people and I think this is a legitmate question that no one has really managed to answer. we wont get anywhere in society trying to shun people, sheesh.

who modded this down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281582)

Love should be for all to share - not just straight people. I used to consider Slashdot to be a pretty open minded place, but after seeing this, I'm starting to reconsider.

Great acticle, full text (now slashdotted...) (3, Informative)

Andreas(R) (448328) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281515)

The science of love

Scientists are finding that, after all, love really is down to a chemical addiction between people

OVER the course of history it has been artists, poets and playwrights who have made the greatest progress in humanity's understanding of love. Romance has seemed as inexplicable as the beauty of a rainbow. But these days scientists are challenging that notion, and they have rather a lot to say about how and why people love each other.

Is this useful? The scientists think so. For a start, understanding the neurochemical pathways that regulate social attachments may help to deal with defects in people's ability to form relationships. All relationships, whether they are those of parents with their children, spouses with their partners, or workers with their colleagues, rely on an ability to create and maintain social ties. Defects can be disabling, and become apparent as disorders such as autism and schizophrenia--and, indeed, as the serious depression that can result from rejection in love. Research is also shedding light on some of the more extreme forms of sexual behaviour. And, controversially, some utopian fringe groups see such work as the doorway to a future where love is guaranteed because it will be provided chemically, or even genetically engineered from conception.
How love makes voles of us all
Feb 12th 2004
St Valentine's day revenge
Feb 10th 2000
Another way to say "I love you"
Sep 24th 1998
Ask Dr Tatiana
Dec 18th 1997

The Journal of Comparative Neurology publishes an abstract of Dr Young's article on prairie voles. Northern State University has a profile of the prairie vole. Test how loved-up you are with Economist.com's love quiz.

The scientific tale of love begins innocently enough, with voles. The prairie vole is a sociable creature, one of the only 3% of mammal species that appear to form monogamous relationships. Mating between prairie voles is a tremendous 24-hour effort. After this, they bond for life. They prefer to spend time with each other, groom each other for hours on end and nest together. They avoid meeting other potential mates. The male becomes an aggressive guard of the female. And when their pups are born, they become affectionate and attentive parents. However, another vole, a close relative called the montane vole, has no interest in partnership beyond one-night-stand sex. What is intriguing is that these vast differences in behaviour are the result of a mere handful of genes. The two vole species are more than 99% alike, genetically.

Why do voles fall in love?

The details of what is going on--the vole story, as it were--is a fascinating one. When prairie voles have sex, two hormones called oxytocin and vasopressin are released. If the release of these hormones is blocked, prairie-voles' sex becomes a fleeting affair, like that normally enjoyed by their rakish montane cousins. Conversely, if prairie voles are given an injection of the hormones, but prevented from having sex, they will still form a preference for their chosen partner. In other words, researchers can make prairie voles fall in love--or whatever the vole equivalent of this is--with an injection.

A clue to what is happening--and how these results might bear on the human condition--was found when this magic juice was given to the montane vole: it made no difference. It turns out that the faithful prairie vole has receptors for oxytocin and vasopressin in brain regions associated with reward and reinforcement, whereas the montane vole does not. The question is, do humans (another species in the 3% of allegedly monogamous mammals) have brains similar to prairie voles?

To answer that question you need to dig a little deeper. As Larry Young, a researcher into social attachment at Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia, explains, the brain has a reward system designed to make voles (and people and other animals) do what they ought to. Without it, they might forget to eat, drink and have sex--with disastrous results. That animals continue to do these things is because they make them feel good. And they feel good because of the release of a chemical called dopamine into the brain. Sure enough, when a female prairie vole mates, there is a 50% increase in the level of dopamine in the reward centre of her brain.

Similarly, when a male rat has sex it feels good to him because of the dopamine. He learns that sex is enjoyable, and seeks out more of it based on how it happened the first time. But, in contrast to the prairie vole, at no time do rats learn to associate sex with a particular female. Rats are not monogamous.

This is where the vasopressin and oxytocin come in. They are involved in parts of the brain that help to pick out the salient features used to identify individuals. If the gene for oxytocin is knocked out of a mouse before birth, that mouse will become a social amnesiac and have no memory of the other mice it meets. The same is true if the vasopressin gene is knocked out.

The salient feature in this case is odour. Rats, mice and voles recognise each other by smell. Christie Fowler and her colleagues at Florida State University have found that exposure to the opposite sex generates new nerve cells in the brains of prairie voles--in particular in areas important to olfactory memory. Could it be that prairie voles form an olfactory "image" of their partners--the rodent equivalent of remembering a personality--and this becomes linked with pleasure?

Dr Young and his colleagues suggest this idea in an article published last month in the Journal of Comparative Neurology. They argue that prairie voles become addicted to each other through a process of sexual imprinting mediated by odour. Furthermore, they suggest that the reward mechanism involved in this addiction has probably evolved in a similar way in other monogamous animals, humans included, to regulate pair-bonding in them as well.

You might as well face it...

Sex stimulates the release of vasopressin and oxytocin in people, as well as voles, though the role of these hormones in the human brain is not yet well understood. But while it is unlikely that people have a mental, smell-based map of their partners in the way that voles do, there are strong hints that the hormone pair have something to reveal about the nature of human love: among those of Man's fellow primates that have been studied, monogamous marmosets have higher levels of vasopressin bound in the reward centres of their brains than do non-monogamous rhesus macaques.

Other approaches are also shedding light on the question. In 2000, Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki of University College, London, located the areas of the brain activated by romantic love. They took students who said they were madly in love, put them into a brain scanner, and looked at their patterns of brain activity.

The results were surprising. For a start, a relatively small area of the human brain is active in love, compared with that involved in, say, ordinary friendship. "It is fascinating to reflect", the pair conclude, "that the face that launched a thousand ships should have done so through such a limited expanse of cortex." The second surprise was that the brain areas active in love are different from the areas activated in other emotional states, such as fear and anger. Parts of the brain that are love-bitten include the one responsible for gut feelings, and the ones which generate the euphoria induced by drugs such as cocaine. So the brains of people deeply in love do not look like those of people experiencing strong emotions, but instead like those of people snorting coke. Love, in other words, uses the neural mechanisms that are activated during the process of addiction. "We are literally addicted to love," Dr Young observes. Like the prairie voles.

It seems possible, then, that animals which form strong social bonds do so because of the location of their receptors for vasopressin and oxytocin. Evolution acts on the distribution of these receptors to generate social or non-social versions of a vole. The more receptors located in regions associated with reward, the more rewarding social interactions become. Social groups, and society itself, rely ultimately on these receptors. But for evolution to be able to act, there must be individual variation between mice, and between men. And this has interesting implications.

Last year, Steven Phelps, who works at Emory with Dr Young, found great diversity in the distribution of vasopressin receptors between individual prairie voles. He suggests that this variation contributes to individual differences in social behaviour--in other words, some voles will be more faithful than others. Meanwhile, Dr Young says that he and his colleagues have found a lot of variation in the vasopressin-receptor gene in humans. "We may be able to do things like look at their gene sequence, look at their promoter sequence, to genotype people and correlate that with their fidelity," he muses.

It has already proved possible to tinker with this genetic inheritance, with startling results. Scientists can increase the expression of the relevant receptors in prairie voles, and thus strengthen the animals' ability to attach to partners. And in 1999, Dr Young led a team that took the prairie-vole receptor gene and inserted it into an ordinary (and therefore promiscuous) mouse. The transgenic mouse thus created was much more sociable to its mate.

Love, love me do

Scanning the brains of people in love is also helping to refine science's grasp of love's various forms. Helen Fisher, a researcher at Rutgers University, and the author of a new book on love*, suggests it comes in three flavours: lust, romantic love and long-term attachment. There is some overlap but, in essence, these are separate phenomena, with their own emotional and motivational systems, and accompanying chemicals. These systems have evolved to enable, respectively, mating, pair-bonding and parenting.

Lust, of course, involves a craving for sex. Jim Pfaus, a psychologist at Concordia University, in Montreal, says the aftermath of lustful sex is similar to the state induced by taking opiates. A heady mix of chemical changes occurs, including increases in the levels of serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and endogenous opioids (the body's natural equivalent of heroin). "This may serve many functions, to relax the body, induce pleasure and satiety, and perhaps induce bonding to the very features that one has just experienced all this with", says Dr Pfaus.

Then there is attraction, or the state of being in love (what is sometimes known as romantic or obsessive love). This is a refinement of mere lust that allows people to home in on a particular mate. This state is characterised by feelings of exhilaration, and intrusive, obsessive thoughts about the object of one's affection. Some researchers suggest this mental state might share neurochemical characteristics with the manic phase of manic depression. Dr Fisher's work, however, suggests that the actual behavioural patterns of those in love--such as attempting to evoke reciprocal responses in one's loved one--resemble obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

That raises the question of whether it is possible to "treat" this romantic state clinically, as can be done with OCD. The parents of any love-besotted teenager might want to know the answer to that. Dr Fisher suggests it might, indeed, be possible to inhibit feelings of romantic love, but only at its early stages. OCD is characterised by low levels of a chemical called serotonin. Drugs such as Prozac work by keeping serotonin hanging around in the brain for longer than normal, so they might stave off romantic feelings. (This also means that people taking anti-depressants may be jeopardising their ability to fall in love.) But once romantic love begins in earnest, it is one of the strongest drives on Earth. Dr Fisher says it seems to be more powerful than hunger. A little serotonin would be unlikely to stifle it.

Wonderful though it is, romantic love is unstable--not a good basis for child-rearing. But the final stage of love, long-term attachment, allows parents to co-operate in raising children. This state, says Dr Fisher, is characterised by feelings of calm, security, social comfort and emotional union.

Because they are independent, these three systems can work simultaneously--with dangerous results. As Dr Fisher explains, "you can feel deep attachment for a long-term spouse, while you feel romantic love for someone else, while you feel the sex drive in situations unrelated to either partner." This independence means it is possible to love more than one person at a time, a situation that leads to jealousy, adultery and divorce--though also to the possibilities of promiscuity and polygamy, with the likelihood of extra children, and thus a bigger stake in the genetic future, that those behaviours bring. As Dr Fisher observes, "We were not built to be happy but to reproduce."

The stages of love vary somewhat between the sexes. Lust, for example, is aroused more easily in men by visual stimuli than is the case for women. This is probably why visual pornography is more popular with men. And although both men and women express romantic love with the same intensity, and are attracted to partners who are dependable, kind, healthy, smart and educated, there are some notable differences in their choices. Men are more attracted to youth and beauty, while women are more attracted to money, education and position. When an older, ugly man is seen walking down the road arm-in-arm with a young and beautiful woman, most people assume the man is rich or powerful.

These foolish things

Of course, love is about more than just genes. Cultural and social factors, and learning, play big roles. Who and how a person has loved in the past are important determinants of his (or her) capacity to fall in love at any given moment in the future. This is because animals--people included--learn from their sexual and social experiences. Arousal comes naturally. But long-term success in mating requires a change from being naive about this state to knowing the precise factors that lead from arousal to the rewards of sex, love and attachment. For some humans, this may involve flowers, chocolate and sweet words. But these things are learnt.

If humans become conditioned by their experiences, this may be the reason why some people tend to date the same "type" of partner over and over again. Researchers think humans develop a "love map" as they grow up--a blueprint that contains the many things that they have learnt are attractive. This inner scorecard is something that people use to rate the suitability of mates. Yet the idea that humans are actually born with a particular type of "soul mate" wired into their desires is wrong. Research on the choices of partner made by identical twins suggests that the development of love maps takes time, and has a strong random component.

Work on rats is leading researchers such as Dr Pfaus to wonder whether the template of features found attractive by an individual is formed during a critical period of sexual-behaviour development. He says that even in animals that are not supposed to pair-bond, such as rats, these features may get fixed with the experience of sexual reward. Rats can be conditioned to prefer particular types of partner--for example by pairing sexual reward with some kind of cue, such as lemon-scented members of the opposite sex. This work may help the understanding of unusual sexual preferences. Human fetishes, for example, develop early, and are almost impossible to change. The fetishist connects objects such as feet, shoes, stuffed toys and even balloons, that have a visual association with childhood sexual experiences, to sexual gratification.

So love, in all its glory, is just, it seems, a chemical state with genetic roots and environmental influences. But all this work leads to other questions. If scientists can make a more sociable mouse, might it be possible to create a more sociable human? And what about a more loving one? A few people even think that "paradise-engineering", dedicated to abolishing the "biological substrates of human suffering", is rather a good idea.

As time goes by

Progress in predicting the outcome of relationships, and information about the genetic roots of fidelity, might also make proposing marriage more like a job application--with associated medical, genetic and psychological checks. If it were reliable enough, would insurers cover you for divorce? And as brain scanners become cheaper and more widely available, they might go from being research tools to something that anyone could use to find out how well they were loved. Will the future bring answers to questions such as: Does your partner really love you? Is your husband lusting after the au pair?

And then there are drugs. Despite Dr Fisher's reservations, might they also help people to fall in love, or perhaps fix broken relationships? Probably not. Dr Pfaus says that drugs may enhance portions of the "love experience" but fall short of doing the whole job because of their specificity. And if a couple fall out of love, drugs are unlikely to help either. Dr Fisher does not believe that the brain could overlook distaste for someone--even if a couple in trouble could inject themselves with huge amounts of dopamine.

However, she does think that administering serotonin can help someone get over a bad love affair faster. She also suggests it is possible to trick the brain into feeling romantic love in a long-term relationship by doing novel things with your partner. Any arousing activity drives up the level of dopamine and can therefore trigger feelings of romance as a side effect. This is why holidays can rekindle passion. Romantics, of course, have always known that love is a special sort of chemistry. Scientists are now beginning to show how true this is.

Fascinating quote - Snort coke or fall in love? (2, Interesting)

mikeymckay (138669) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281539)

"Parts of the brain that are love-bitten include the one responsible for gut feelings, and the ones which generate the euphoria induced by drugs such as cocaine. So the brains of people deeply in love do not look like those of people experiencing strong emotions, but instead like those of people snorting coke."

Additional Reading (5, Interesting)

giminy (94188) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281541)

I'd suggest reading about the economy of orgasms [utexas.edu] as well.

Science is wonderful, isn't it?

Hmm given the 'Love' injection to a vole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281548)

I could start a website.. or a religion

Rubbish Article (0, Offtopic)

Gantic (460802) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281551)

I'm just bitter.

Just chemicals (0, Flamebait)

Hobobo (231526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8281556)

It's lame when people say something is "Just chemicals." Everything to do with biology is "just chemicals." Newton writing his laws of physics is the result of "just chemicals" just like me writing this is.

Love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8281599)

I'm generally not attracted to men, but my God something about Hitler just drives me absolutely batty! That dramatic sweep of hair across his brow, like he just tossed his head and there it fell, a cascade of black like the velvet curtain of night. I want him to take me on the hood of a King Tiger, its 1400 horsepower engine revving as he violates the virginal secrets of my Eagle's Nest.

I picture it like those glorious mass rallies the Nazis used to have. There he is lovingly pounding away at my second front while legions of goose-stepping Aryans march past and salute our union.

Just as Hitler is about to empty his tiny ubermenschen into the expanse of my Liebe-raum a wing of Stukas will fly overhead, their sirens howling in synchronicity with the primal cries of pleasure from Der Fuehrer.

My god, what a man!

-Michael Sims
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