Nautilus (USA): when your brain in love

Helen Fisher first appeared in the edition of “Nautilus” in 2015 with her article “Casual sex help to strengthen American marriages” (Casual Sex May Be Improving America’s Marriages). After that we took her interview, trying to hear her insights and conjectures about the relationships that create alliances and break them. Fisher found fame in the popular scientific literature in 1992, when she published her book “Anatomy of love” (Anatomy of Love), where she traces the evolution of love from prehistory to the neurobiological times. Fisher wrote several other books, including, “Why him? Why her?” (Why Him? Why Her?) Today she works as senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and chief scientific Advisor’s website

These studies Fisher are contained in numerous articles and books on the science of love and sex. Among them are thought-provoking new book “the Love drug” (Love Drugs) written by Brian Earl (Brian D. Earl) and Julian Savulescu (Julian Savulescu), which this week also marked their materials in the “Nautilus”. It’s unlikely we would be able to access in our publication section on love and sex without the participation of the Fisher. Below are her comments, which is a key position on the topic of love and sex, which often defies logic and seem very unexpected. They are taken from my interviews with Fisher and presented separately under short headings.

I love you, doctor

We did a brain scan more than 100 crazy people in love using a magnetic resonance tomograph. People who are in love with for eight months, we noticed high activity in those brain areas that are associated with deep feelings of romantic love. Those who are madly in love with for longer periods of time (from eight to 17 months), it was noted an additional activity in the part of the brain responsible for feelings of deep attachment. This clearly showed us that the human brain can easily, quickly and madly in love, but the formation of feelings of deep attachment takes more time. Romantic love is like the sleeping cat and can be awaken at any time. But to have any attachment or feeling of space, deep and serious love for another person, we need more time.

This have been going scientific debate. Maybe it is just a General structure, and then our nature says, “Oh, this feeling is romantic love, and this is how the love for chocolate”? Or in the brain have particular areas? True, and more. In certain circumstances, our cultural environment tells us how we should interpret one or another reaction, and this is a common reaction of the brain. In other circumstances, the cultural environment plays no role. A Darwinian mechanism drives a certain part of the brain and basic brain structures. This is a very individual system of the brain that evolyutsioniruet for some special and specific reasons.

The most astonishing moment for us was the study of patients with epilepsy. Whenever they electrode stimulated the caudate nucleus that is part of a “system of desire”, these patients turned around and confessed his love to the doctor. Thus, there are certain areas of the brain that are directly associated with specific emotions. We know that mirror neurons linked to empathy. We know that a certain part of the brain associated with social conformism. And for us it is no secret that certain areas of the brain associated with mathematical skills.

Simplified obligations

We have formed three brain systems for mating and reproduction: sex drive, romantic love and feelings of deep attachment. In General, people usually fall in love first, and then they slowly arises a sense of deep attachment to a partner. But it could be different. You have a colleague you respect her, you appreciate a sense of humor, and you are beginning to arise deep sense of attachment to this person. But you’re not in love. You live with another woman or is married to another woman, and she married another man. But times change, and suddenly you’re getting a divorce after a long period of deep attachment is driven by the system interneuronal connections responsible for romantic love, and now you are madly in love.

I think you don’t even know when this happens jump to the attachment. The brain just does it naturally. We are created in order to form a deep attachment to raise children. Monogamy — a hallmark of a man. 97% of mammals do not form pairs to raise their young, and people come together. A friend of mine who has been happily married for half a century, told me once about her husband: “Sometimes I hate him, but I always love him.” She meant that the constant feeling of deep attachment to another person is retained for a long time.

I like the term “simplified obligations”. We are gradually moving from easy to more lasting and durable form of attachment. Today no hurry, and that’s fine. The fact that we can have your partnership in any way, what we love allows us to Express feelings of love, when we believe that the time has come. We take logical decisions, which helps to create partnerships. Some people feel the affection almost instantly, they may take a few days. But there are others who need much more time. Affection may grow in any way.

I don’t think sex is the main cause that brings us together and binds. In partnership is something more than just sex. Many women told me that they were much better lovers than their husbands, but they didn’t know anyone so interesting, smart, good with children and this household. For some people sex is important, for others it doesn’t matter much.

Not for children

Sex is a very powerful brain system. When you orgasm, a significant part of your brain is almost completely shut off. Once you trigger five of the 12 cranial nerves. You really see a person, smell it, touch it, feel. The brain receives and absorbs a large amount of data. Any stimulation of the genitals triggers the activity of the pleasure hormone dopamine, and you step through the door of love. With orgasm there is a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin — hormones associated with feelings of deep attachment.

Sex is a way to bear children, which sends your DNA to the future. But it also activates the system interneuronal connections responsible for romantic love and feelings of deep attachment, even if you don’t intend to have children. This primitive brain system appeared long ago. And they aren’t going anywhere as long as we exist as a species. They will not change, it does not change our habit of eating meat. The desire to eat meat, desire to eat meat, and the body’s ability to eat meat has evolved we have two, if not four million years. It is deeply and firmly lodged in our mind.

Sex is useful for other purposes and not just for having children. Thanks to him, you relax. It is useful to control the bladder and for vision. Useful for skin and for the muscles. Useful for breathing. It is a good antidepressant. In the seminal fluid a lot of different chemicals, such as dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone. They help your body to maintain good form. With the right person the sex is good even if you have no kids, and if you’re that person not want to see.

Sex is dangerous

We learned a lot about the man laying with us in bed, and not only its size, shapes, smells, sounds, and what is he to touch and taste. We’ll find out how flexible our partner, if he can change some of their habits, paying attention to us, if he wants to deliver us pleasure, whether he listens to us and does it meet our needs. Many people engage in casual sex, to quickly get to know the person before they will become attached to him, and to understand that it does not suit them. But we can engage in casual sexual intercourse with a person who we do not like, whom we do not respect and who do not trust, and in the process launching the interneuronal connections romantic love and feelings of affection. And it turns out that we are messing with the wrong girl or the wrong man.

During sex we spend a lot of metabolic energy. And it is dangerous. We are very close to the person who can stab us in the back. And it is dangerous due to the fact that we can fall in love. My friend Dr. Justin Garcia (Justin Garcia) did a study of one-night stands and brief flings. He asked different people questions about why they did it. 51 percent of the interviewed men and women said that they wanted to get to know the person with whom they met. Thus, casual sex is rarely casual. There is some motive. I measured the testosterone levels to understand what is happening, and I understand the problem of adolescents. The point is that some of them are just doing it for sex. But I understand that with age one begins to realize how much time and energy demands sex. We want to have sex with a person with whom we at least are friends, or want to make friends.


We have formed and developed four General style of thinking and behaviors associated with dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen. They can be called a Researcher, a Builder, a Manager and a Negotiator. We found out that we are attracted to those who have the same style of thinking and behavior. The researchers, representing the dopamine system, always looking for something new, take risks, exhibit curiosity. It’s people are resourceful, creative, impulsive, energetic, with flexible thinking. They need a partner who is ready to jump off the couch and go to Paris for the weekend with nothing but a toothbrush in his pocket. Builders — people with high serotonin levels. They adhere to traditions, accepted norms. They follow the rules, respect authority, love schedules and plans. These people are often religious. We found activity in a tiny part of the brain, which is associated with social conformity, which is the main feature of the serotonin system. People with the other two styles of thinking and behavior is marked on a scale of testosterone and estrogen, we noticed more activity in those brain areas that are associated with analytical and mathematical thinking, and also created by testosterone during embryonic development. In people with high estrogen levels more activity in the mirror neurons that are associated with empathy.

Biology is at the helm

The brain is able to adapt. I have long believe that the more we understand their biological mechanisms, the more we realize the strength and power of the cultural forces that change us, change our behavior. We can change their behavior. Some people are predisposed to alcoholism and give up alcohol. Some people have the tendency to eat a lot and get fat, and then they stop eating. Some people tend to be lazy, but every day I go to work, and demonstrate there is great creativity and hard work.

Some manners have no relationship to biology. If you grew up in a Muslim family and learned the basics of Islam, you are Muslim. I think biology is in no way connected. If you grow up in a Christian family, most likely, you will become a Christian. Here too biology plays no role. The belief of a God is a matter of culture. But you believe in God or not — it is biology.

Everything has a biological component. When you’re cooking dinner, there is a biological component. When you laugh at a joke, there is a biological component. When you have a fresh idea, there is a biological component. You can drive without a car? I don’t think. You need a car, and you need a brain.

We know that we can receive the same printout, same behavior from different neural pathways. But in the end it is important that we eat the same food, take the same medications such as aspirin, and drinking beer, showing the same reaction. We are one species, and very much in the brain works is pretty standard. We learn these standards, and we know the exceptions. But we are all one herd. Once upon a time you and I sat together at a fire in North Africa, and suddenly one day decided to go North in pursuit of the Buffalo. Naturally, as a result of migration, we were in the North of Europe. And our friends did not move and remained in Africa. But we are still the same.