Christian Long

Helen Fisher: The Brain in Love

In TED Talks on May 4, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Reflection by SYLVIA A.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Helen Fisher:  The Brain in Love

Love. The first thing that comes to mind are gushy romance novels and chick flicks. I see young couples in puppy love and old couples that have endured years and years with each other. We are constantly being bombarded with media images of love, so how are we supposed to know what love really is? Most people have an understanding of love from personal experience. Fisher is trying to solidify these personal experiences into quantifiable evidence. Trying to find this relationship between the heart and the brain may be surprisingly consistent even though every one’s love story is different. This is due to the fact that the brain responds in the same way when put through a similar circumstance. For example, Mrs. Fisher is doing a study on people who are madly in love, some are happily in love, some who have been dumped and some who have been in love for 25 years. Her talk is about her findings.

Mrs. Fisher read a poem, that is in her opinion, the greatest love poem of all time. I found it rather disturbing, but I do like the emotion in the poem and the way it conveys how much passion, pain, and pure bliss is involved in love. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the symbolic imagery of love. When you think of love you think the heart, automatically. Not your biological heart, the cute ones you see on Valentine’s day cards. That shows that the popular image of love is more cartoon-y than reality driven. This makes total sense because love is not rational it is driven by emotion, but these emotions we feel are not coincidence. They are triggered by our bodies due to biological impulses which can be quantifiable. This idea really conflicts with my whole concept of love but I enjoy exploring this other part of the equation.

By her one of her more publicized experiments she looked at brains in love. She found a little area in the brain called the ventral tigmital area (VTA), very active. This area is associated with the most primal human characteristics like motivation, drive, and craving. When someone becomes a regular part of your environment you being to attach yourself to them. When that person is no longer apart of your environment it creates chaos within your heart and your brain because your emotional triggers have not yet let go of that person that became a normal entity in your life. She also associates a love with drugs. When you are involved in both you receive an instant high and shot of feel-good sensors in your body. This parallel is also seen during withdrawl and the major toll it takes on a human being physically and emotionally.

Although all of this information is being gathered, it is wise of her to point out that it in no way affects her own love life, or anyone else’s for that matter. Even though Mrs. Fisher is talking scientifically about the phenomena of love, she continuously quotes love poems which express the romantic side of love as well. Although you can understand the reason behind love there is nothing you can do to control or stop it. I believe it’s an uncontrollable force for the better or for the worse. Like she said, “Nobody gets out of love alive.”


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