MadSci Network: General Biology

Subject: What is love (the emotion)?

Date: Wed Apr 30 16:04:12 2003
Posted by Lenta
Grade level: 7-9 School: Klein High/ Homeschooled
City: Houston State/Province: Texas Country: US
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1051736652.Gb

Why do humans (and animals?) feel this emotion of love? What purpose does that 
serve? Literally, what is love? I read this one article in Science Magazine the 
other day that basically says that "love" is just a bunch of hormones and 
chemicals running through the brain. It said that oxytocin is released in the 
brain, which (for example) causes a human mother to take care of her baby 
instead of leaving it since it can't take care of itself. The oxytocin 
receptors happened to overlap with dopamine receptors in the part of the brain 
called the nucleus accumbens (generally regarded as one of the brain's 
essential pleasure centers) (at least, this last statement is true in the case 
of the monogamous prairie voles). So I think that means that basically, every 
time a human being engages in an act of love, their brains reward them by 
feeling good, which encourages love. Is that right? If so, why is that so? I 
mean, why love when we could have instead just been able to survive 
independantly at birth? What purpose do prairie voles have for love, anyway??

Re: What is love (the emotion)?

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