Dating machine online
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience may help us understand what’s going on in the brain when we decide to swipe a certain way; that is to say, if we’re interested or disinterested in a future connection with any given person.While undergoing brain imaging, participants in the study were shown a photo of a person and then given 4 seconds to respond to the question: “How much would you like to date this person?In contrast, when dopamine in the NA was activated, the voles enacted pair bonding even if no actual mating occurred.While this experiment demonstrates the role of dopamine in partnering, human beings remain far more complex than rodents bred in a lab for the sole purpose of mating.He wrote that the lovemap is “a developmental representation or template in the mind and in the brain depicting the idealized lover.”The imaging study concluded that even a quick glance can accurately predict romantic desire, but that glance involves a complex mix of physical and psychological judgements that depend on activity in the two brain regions observed.
“[We’re] trying to assess a) whether the person fits into our lovemap, and b) whether the person is sexually attractive.”One’s “lovemap” is a concept coined by sexologist John Money.
Like drug users who crave a fix, so do lovers crave their partner, and even feel withdrawal when they’re not around. A romantic partner, a kiss, or any rewarding object, will kick this wanting system into high gear.
As Fisher and her colleagues write in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, “Increased levels of central dopamine contribute to the lover’s focused attention on the beloved and the lover’s tendency to regard the beloved as unique.” A factory deep within the midbrain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is a critical region said to be origin of dopaminergic cell bodies.
It activates when we inject heroin, have an orgasm, and of course, when we love someone. That’s why neuroscientist Vaughn Bell once called it the Kim Kardashian of neurotransmitters, “…
an excuse to drop some booty on the science pages,” he wrote.