Neuroscience of Love

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Larry Young, professor of psychiatry at Emory University, director of its Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, and science journalist Brian Alexander, discuss their search for a "grand unified theory" of love from their book The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction.


Brian Alexander and Larry Young
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [8]


The mere physiological, biological attraction is a natural animal instinct but there is also a Divine element to love. The human organism becomes an instrument to experience the Divine. Perhaps the chemistry produced in the body is the same but the quality and duration of this kind of love is infinitely different. This is the true relationship and the ideal that distinguishes us from our animal relatives.

May. 22 2013 04:25 PM

I believe love goes beyond romance, though a biological need yet not limited to it.
Not all those who know their minds know their hearts as well ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Sep. 26 2012 06:35 AM
MG from Manhattan

People in your life are habits and even bad habits are hard to break.

ON men and relationships... you need to check this in non western societies where men have more options for intimacy and companionship than in the USA. Men without an "other " are more isolated in the USA and women demand more of men's mindshare here, usually isolating men from their male friends and requiring that men focus only on "the relationship" IN the USA, prostitution and compensated dating is illegal, forcing men to get involved in relationships just to meet the needs of their biology as well as psychology

Sep. 20 2012 10:58 AM
John A.

I'm with Em.
"these idiots" are making a run for their million and have a good chance for making it. People buy these books all the time. And check the medicine load of the average 20-30 y-o today. The majority are probably dependent on outside support for their natural processes, so you need a manual to sort it all out, it seems.

Sep. 20 2012 10:57 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Love" is a biologically evolved "addiction" required for human reproduction AND keeping the male supporting and protecting the children until the female doesn't need those services anymore as the child gets old enough to take care of itsel. "Love" wears off like any other drug. "Marriage" was a man-made cultural institution to keep control of his children and hopefully his wife and property. In the natural world, one alpha stud would have a whole bunch of females and the weaker and less capable males would mostly be out of luck.

Sep. 20 2012 10:56 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn


1. Even if "love" is a neurochemical process, how do we relate that to individuals? What determines mutual "love" between two random individuals?

2. In accord with the question of your caller, what is the neurochemical difference between love and lust?

"Love Potion #9: Better living through modern chemistry."

Sep. 20 2012 10:56 AM

I understand that serotonine is involved in love. Could SSRIs, which effect serotonine, also effect love?

Sep. 20 2012 10:54 AM

We are at a ridiculously early stage at the science of neurology, but this doesn't stop these idiots from making these "grand" and foolish statements, which they know full well are misleading. But they sell books, don't they. Historically, up to and including today, the field of psychiatry has done far more harm than good, I only need point out the drugging of kids with demanding behaviour with anti-depressants which have been shown to cause suicide. The list goes on. It is a complex world and it cannot be reduced to a CT scan of a white middle class student in a totally controlled environment. If you call that science, I can sell you some homeopathy.

Sep. 20 2012 10:45 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.