By Akhil Kumar:
Anthropologist Helen Fisher takes on a tricky topic – love – and explains its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its social importance. She, along with her colleagues, put 32 people, who were madly in love, into a functional MRI brain scanner. 17 who were madly in love and their love was accepted; and 15 who were madly in love and they had just been dumped. The resulting brain activity provides basis for her insights into why we love. She ends with a cautionary note on the devastating effects of antidepressants on our ability to love. “…what these drugs do is raise levels of serotonin. And by raising levels of serotonin, you suppress the dopamine circuit. Everybody knows that. Dopamine is associated with romantic love. Not only do they suppress the dopamine circuit, but they kill the sex drive. And when you kill the sex drive, you kill orgasm. And when you kill orgasm, you kill that flood of drugs associated with attachment. The things are connected in the brain. And when you tamper with one brain system, you’re going to tamper with another. I’m just simply saying that a world without love is a deadly place.” she says.
About the speaker: Anthropologist Helen Fisher studies gender differences and the evolution of human emotions. She’s best known as an expert on romantic love, and her beautifully penned books — including Anatomy of Love and Why We Love — lay bare the mysteries of our most treasured emotion.