Friday, April 20, 2007

Science--demystifying the mystical for hundreds of years

One annoying cliché that people bring up when discussing religion is that some things are intangible, just like God, therefore God exists. Or something. One of the most common is love--I actually had a Mormon quip "What about love?" when I told her that I believe in things that can be measured. I wanted to yell at her--perhaps ask if she'd ever had an original thought in her life--but I had class to get to.

Anyways, the answer is yes.
Sexual behavior includes a lot more than sex. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University, argues that three primary brain systems have evolved to direct reproductive behavior. One is the sex drive that motivates people to seek partners. A second is a program for romantic attraction that makes people fixate on specific partners. Third is a mechanism for long-term attachment that induces people to stay together long enough to complete their parental duties.

Romantic love, which in its intense early stage "can last 12-18 months," is a universal human phenomenon, Dr. Fisher wrote last year in The Proceedings of the Royal Society, and is likely to be a built-in feature of the brain. Brain imaging studies show that a particular area of the brain, one associated with the reward system, is activated when subjects contemplate a photo of their lover.

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