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It's Valentine's Day, how is your brain activity today, when you think of the one (or ones) you love? Would an fMRI of your brain show that you love a person more intensely than others are capable of loving? Check out this 15 minute film by Brent Hoff, in collaboration with Stanford University neuroscientists, "The Love Competition". The brain activity of seven test subjects ("contestants") was measured by fMRI while they were thinking about the one they love, thinking about loving that person, as hard as they could, for 5 minutes.  By fMRI, they measured activity in regions known to produce the neurochemicals of love: oxytocin/vasopressin, serotonin, dopamine. Based on this activity, it was possible for the scientists doing the neuroimaging to tell who was loving the most intensely. The participants reported feeling giddy or even very moved while they were thinking of the love of their lives. Interestingly, the happiest person is the guy who came in last, because he felt he has confirmation that he really didn't love his girlfriend. Check out the 10 year old boy (adorable). But it's interesting that the neuroscientist predicted the winner would be an older person. 

Hat tip to Wired magazine

The Love Competition from Brent Hoff on Vimeo.

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Replies to This Discussion

This is very cool!

What's fun is their reaction after the test.
What five minutes of thinking can do!
Most were giddy, for others it was as "mystical" an experience as you'll get. And the guy who got over his breakup...



Yes, the power of our minds have to completely change our mood and even how we feel physically is amazing. I liked the older lady who was overcome by emotion. 

The religious have hijacked this faculty for ever.

Yes, the emotional lady, yet her calmer and perhaps a bit more rational husband scored higher.

Yes. The score I'm sure is an approximate measurement and like in all fMRI, a head-to-head (no pun intended) comparison is not entirely valid (Michael Gazzaniga explains this very clearly in his his book "Who's in Charge", there are individual variations in fMRI even when the task and engagement is the same). It's possible the lady was very emotional and she had all kinds of regions firing, not only the ones measured by this specific fMRI. Which is why this is a video and not a scientific paper. Too few subjects, anyway. But the idea was pretty cool regardless.


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