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Randy Ludwig. The Biology of Love, Sex & Attraction. TNDY 402 FEB 14— 2011. OVERVIEW:. Types of LOVE Biochemistry of LOVE Applications Conclusion. A few Stats:. Age of first marriage: Women: 24.8 years Men: 27.3 years The probability of first marriage by age 30: 74% for women

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Randy Ludwig

The Biology of Love, Sex & Attraction

TNDY 402 FEB 14— 2011


OVERVIEW:

  • Types of LOVE

  • Biochemistry of LOVE

  • Applications

  • Conclusion


A few Stats:

Age of first marriage:

Women: 24.8 years

Men: 27.3 years

The probability of first marriage by age 30:

74% for women

61% for men.

The probability of first marriage by age 40:

86% for women

81% for men.

(Goodwin, McGill, & Chandra, 2009)


A few Stats:

17% of women & 25% of men have not married by age 35.

12% of women have not married by age 40,

17% of men have not married by age 40.

The probability that men and women will marry by age 40 is over 80%.

(Goodwin, McGill, & Chandra, 2009)


TYPES:

If it feels different, it is different

  • Lust (Sex)

  • Passionate Love (Infatuation/Romantic Love)

  • Companionate Love (Attachment)

  • Maternal Love


TYPES:

Lust/Sex:

  • Non-selective sex, goodness of fit not important

Main Drivers:

  • Testosterone: (C19 H28 O2 )

    • Increases sexual arousal in men & women

  • Estradiol: (C18 H24 O2)

    • Associated with higher sexual activity in women

    • Higher masturbation rates

    • Preference for “manly” faces

  • Dopamine & Norepinephrine

  • Motivates sex “with any appropriate member of the species”

  • (Fisher et al, 2002, p. 414)

  • Increases here, don’t automatically increase other types of love

Key Brain Areas Involved:

  • Medial insula

  • Anterior cingulate

  • Hypothalamus

  • Nucleus accumbens

  • VTA


TYPES:

  • Consists of “intense longing” and “physiological arousal”

  • (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010, p. 301)

  • Exhilaration and euphoria

Passionate Love:

  • Exhilaration and euphoria

Increases in:

  • Dopamine: (DA)

  • Norepinephrine: (NE)

  • Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)

Phenylethylamine: PEA is a neurotransmitter released by a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. Theresa Crenshaw, M.D., author of The Alchemy of Love and Lust, (Pocket Books; 1997) calls PEA "the molecule of love". It plays a part in the "falling in love" stage accompanied by feelings of euphoria

Decreases in:

Key Brain Areas Involved:

  • Serotonin: (5HT)

  • Frontal Lobe

  • Amygdala

  • Parietal lobe

  • Anterior cingulate

  • Hippocampus

  • Nucleus accumbens

  • Hypothalamus

  • VTA

  • Caudate nucleus

Excess DA & NE tend to

reduce 5HT Obsession


Pleasure Centers In the Brain:

1. Sensory Cortex sends signal to

VTA (ventral tegmental area) indicating

pleasurable activity has occurred

which increases VTA activity

  • The VTA releases dopamine which

  • travels to the nucleus accumbens

Orbitofrontal

Cortex (OFC)

  • High amounts of dopamine are then released

  • in the nucleus accumbens—equating to feelings

  • of desire, importance, and pleasure

  • Dopamine travels to prefrontal cortex where

  • it is also registered as pleasurable


Cingulate Gyrus

2. ________

Thalamus

3. ________

Corpus Callosum

1. ________

Nucleus Accumbens

11. ________

Cerebellum

4. ________

Hypothalamus

10. ________

Pituitary Gland

9. ________

Amygdala

Hippocampus

5. ________

8. ________

Medulla

6. ________

Pons

7. ________


TYPES:

Arginine vasopressin (AVP)

Companionate Love:

  • Calmer type of love, emotional bond

  • EX: grandparents married for 30 years

Increases in:

  • Oxytocin: (OXT)

  • Vasopressin: (AVP)

  • Chemically similar

  • Produced in hypothalamus

  • Released from pituitary gland

Decreases in:

  • Serotonin: (5HT)


TYPES:

Arginine vasopressin (AVP)

Maternal Love:

  • Parent & child

Increases in:

  • Oxytocin: (OXT)

  • Vasopressin: (AVP)

Brain implications:

  • Hypothalamus not activated

  • Striatum is activated

  • Slight reduction in frontal lobe

Decreases in:

  • Serotonin: (5HT)


APPLICATIONS:

Arginine vasopressin (AVP)

Prairie Voles:

  • Socially monogamous (mate with others at times)

  • High levels of OXT & AVP receptors

    • If OXT & AVP blocked: they become promiscuous

Montane Voles:

  • Promiscuous

  • No long-term attachment

  • OXT & AVP injections in montane voles doesn’t lead to monogamy—why?


Clark & Hatfield (1989):

  • Students were approached by another student of the opposite sex, who said:

  • “I have been noticing you around campus and I find you very attractive.”

  • This was followed by one of three invitations:

    • “Would you go out with me tonight?”

    • “Would you come over to my apartment?”

    • “Would you go to bed with me?”


100

80

60

Percent Saying “Yes”

About half of both sexes said “yes” to the date

40

20

0

Go Out

Go to Apt.

Go to Bed


100

80

60

Percent Saying “Yes”

About half of both sexes said “yes” to the date

40

20

0

Go Out

Go to Apt.

Go to Bed


100

80

60

Not a single woman said “yes” to the sexual invitation

Percent Saying “Yes”

About half of both sexes said “yes” to the date

40

20

0

Go Out

Go to Apt.

Go to Bed


100

80

60

Not a single woman said “yes” to the sexual invitation

Percent Saying “Yes”

About half of both sexes said “yes” to the date

40

20

0

Go Out

Go to Apt.

Go to Bed


Men were even more likely to say “yes” to the sexual invitation

If men said “No,” then they typically apologized and/or offered an excuse such as “I’m dating someone”

100

80

60

Not a single woman said “yes” to the sexual invitation

Percent Saying “Yes”

About half of both sexes said “yes” to the date

40

20

0

Go Out

Go to Apt.

Go to Bed


Mate preferences of women
Mate Preferences of Women invitation

  • Economic Resources

  • Good Financial Prospects

  • High Social Status

  • Older Men

  • Ambition and Industriousness

  • Dependability and Stability

  • Athletic Prowess

  • Good Health and Physical Appearance

  • Love and Commitment

  • Willingness to Invest in Children


Mate preferences of males
Mate Preferences of Males invitation

  • Desire women who are:

    • Intelligent, kind, humorous, understanding, & healthy

    • Similar in terms of values, personality, and religious beliefs


In addition
In Addition... invitation

  • Youth

    • A cue for fertility


Mate preferences of males1
Mate Preferences of Males invitation

  • Youth

  • Physical Beauty

    • full lips, clear skin, smooth skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair, good muscle tone, & attractive body fat distribution

    • Behavior: youthful gait, animated facial expression, & high energy level

  • “Average” & symmetrical faces are more attractive


Mate preferences of males2
Mate Preferences of Males invitation

  • In the US, women typically believe that men want women who are SLIMMER THAN AVERAGE…but men actually prefer women who are AVERAGE

  • Although men’s preferences for body size varies to some degree across cultures, one body shape preference is universal: a particular ratio between the size of a woman’s waist and the size of her hips

  • Youth

  • Physical Beauty

  • Body Fat and the Critical Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR)

    • Universal preference across cultures...

    • .70 is optimal


References: invitation

Arginine vasopressin (AVP)

Clark, R.D., & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity oto sexual offers. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 771-782.

Fisher, J, Aron, A, & Brown, L.L. (2005). Romantic Love: an fmri study of a neural mechanism for mate choice. The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 493:58, 58-62.

Fisher, H.E., Aron, A., Mashek, D., Haifang, L., & Brown, L.L. (2002). Defining the brain systems of lust, romantic attraction, and attachment. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 31:5, 413-419.

Johnson, S. (2009). Addicted to love. The Brain. Winter, 50-55.

Savulescu, J., & Sandberg, A. (2008). Neuroenhancement of love and marriage: The chemicals between us. Nueroethics. !:31, 31-44

Zeki, S. (2006). The neurobiology of love. FEBS Letters 581, 2575-2579.


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