The Science Behind Love and Lust
Journalist Brian Alexander and Dr. Larry Young talk to Alan about the science of attraction and love
- Duration 16:07
- Date Sep 29, 2012
Journalist Brian Alexander and Dr. Larry Young talk to Alan about the science of attraction and love
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I'm -- -- -- welcome your microphones doctor Larry young and up Ryan Alexander got the youngest go -- -- -- Alexander of became a few minutes left signs in the science of attraction.
Not beyond his the William.
Timmy professor in the department of psychiatry and director of the center for transactional.
In every university in the -- Of the division of behavioral neuroscience and psychiatric disorders at the you're he's national primate research center.
And I'm Brian Alexander is the author of several books like rapture how Biotech became a new religion.
And America -- the search for sex and satisfaction also served as contributing editor at wired and glamour magazine's public at all that right.
That's not that I -- and I think the Jack this book -- -- tell me doctor young which you want to accomplish in this book.
It's really got some fascinating stuff and -- Potomac -- prospective what you're trying to get here.
Well I've been spending the last fifteen years understanding that biochemistry and and there are -- -- the brain and I find that it really really fascinating topic.
And I think most people don't really realize how much we know about how chemistry.
Acts in our brain to make -- do all the behaviors that we do.
And so what I set -- to do with working with Brian -- to try to make the book.
Something that the general public without any time background could read to find entertaining.
And they can learn a lot about.
What we know about about a -- of behavior.
All right what is -- let's go to some of the things you talk about here because there's a lot to it in time -- our short but what makes.
Brian to strangers for example.
Even before they meet conclude.
That they really want to maybe spend their lives together.
But they did you have to meet first -- -- but once they do.
Other people who mile you get -- met online who have had that feeling and and never met.
Well then I mean independently mean by law I mean it and are one of the things we discussed in the book actually -- the importance.
Faith that they meeting and things like I gave and touching and so on and so forth so.
If we if we want to use little more restrictive definition of love in the traditional sense.
It really does require two people have to meet and at least have some sort of physical interaction.
And that's what the book is about is really about how this process happens.
Meeting someone in deciding this is the person for me not only -- -- like this person.
But it literally can't live without them.
Bit of that does that's groups maintain itself when you feel you can't live without somebody.
But then you're together and then you're married then it's five years in ten years in fifteen years and -- beyond.
Many times you the person -- you could not have live without is someone -- -- can't wait to get rid of work or maybe could just take in stride at that point.
Yeah and that that in fact we talked about in the book how the chemistry of love changes over time.
In the beginning in the first years of relationship there's a lot of both -- and occupants and being released and it just gives you that feeling almost like a like being high.
In the fact that the same brain regions and from the same molecules that are involved in cocaine high.
I'm but then as time progresses.
That -- it goes the way yet there's still something that keeps people together.
What is it that debacle that what's the glue that that -- your relationship years down the -- Welcome -- chemistry perspective there's a molecule called fear out which regulates stress responses -- hand.
What we find in the animals that we've studied is that how when there -- separated from their partners.
They have an increase in this molecule that make them get really stressed out and feel very negative feeling very much slack -- addict feels when he's away from the drug.
And so we think that that molecule actually arrived.
Individuals back together this was not necessarily that the great -- bit of being with a partner.
But is that negative feeling.
Not being away from the.
-- even -- -- years down the road in those initial.
Chemicals are gone.
Yes and -- end.
Of course you know that not all marriages are all couples stay together forever but this is the molecules it sort of helps to maintain that.
In the later.
Here is there any way to keep that that feeling that initial high that euphoria the cocaine like.
The thing you mentioned going for -- throughout the relationship.
Well I think that you can you can do a lot of things like.
Go I don't based in new environment and do things that are sort of -- stimulate the government system but also need to maintain that occupants and.
Through the item I contacted -- little intimate communication -- Patching.
And -- all of these things are activating these occupants and and open systems and so long as you can maintain those activities.
You're likely to have a more successful relationship.
Trying to tell you read this the book why would a married man a federal judge.
Carry on carry a loaded pistol while buying drugs rooster prepare more than ways -- you put it why why would a so called responsible person.
Who has a lot to lose or present at the oval office for example -- intern.
Why would someone make that choice.
Well it's really the battle of two brains we have a reasoning rational brain -- centered in the frontal cortex and then we have this.
This a reward brain's reward system.
-- in the deep brain.
That is nudging us toward certain behaviors towards seeking out reward.
And sometimes that can -- so loudly that are reasonable reasonable brain.
Can't make itself heard or or is shouted down by this craving for reward and often people who are the most successful kinds of people.
People are very ambitious very driven very creative they often have -- the most difficult time.
Listening to their rational brain when it comes to reward.
-- can you not know that let's say you're a politician in -- office and you do recently very -- in your career is in the balance that if he ever found acting -- -- lose everything including your family your job.
How are somehow -- some and not cognizant of that why is that not -- the -- -- -- it keeps you back from making a bad choice toward.
You do know you needed I'm sure that they Anthony Weiner knew Bill Clinton obviously knew that -- this were -- found out would be disastrous.
But that that just showed you how powerful.
These rewards systems.
-- -- he goes and seeks that reward he knows that the drug is bad for -- he knows that his wife is thinking and yet he can't help himself but to keep going for them.
What accounts fort attraction to members of the same sex.
Larry and let all England -- -- -- yet so.
I don't really have any data on that from my own studies that I would imagine that it's probably.
The same molecules so it's just -- the attraction is just directed towards someone of the same sex.
So even when homosexual couples and their intimate touching.
Communicating all that they're probably still releasing these same molecules.
In the first chapter of our book goes into really how we are.
We are born gay for example is Lady Gaga says were born straight or -- even transgender and so this is through a process of brain organization that we discussed.
And that accounts for at the direction of -- sexual preference.
When you say born transgender there and you go to this the book as well people who are born outwardly with one gender but inwardly they feel -- a member of the opposite gender.
And that something you can't control right right exactly that's just the way you're born it's the way your made up.
What you wrote a piece also about breasts.
And why why heterosexual men are fascinated.
By women's breasts and in fact.
We as humans are the only or women.
Are the only.
Guess creatures in our opinion mammals who whose press.
I guess what what's unique about -- I forget how you put in the book but there's something unique to being a human being and -- That's about it that's something that's threatening me for a long time.
Biologically speaking if you look at all the animals none of the other animals are the -- fascinated by the press the breasts are only for producing milk for the baby.
And through my -- said he without realizes.
That the molecule that's released.
When the -- stimulates the breasts it's called occupants and and that causes the mother to focus her attention on that baby and bond with that -- And humans are different from most other species -- that we are monogamous and we or the reform bonds between partners.
And what I believe is that the male fascination with the -- It's a way of stimulating that.
Perhaps so that he really felt like -- -- That activate -- those same maternal bonding circuit that normally would be directed to the baby but now they're directed towards the mail.
And here's an -- looking -- women are the only female mammals -- say.
Whose breasts become enlarged -- puberty independent of pregnancy.
Right so they're they're obviously serving from function other than.
Just being able to produce milk for the baby.
So enlarged breasts do something to simulate something in man.
Well and -- men like large -- so I mean you know.
-- but I think -- -- I mean larger than you might find an and other species which would be perfectly flat.
So these are low all female breasts are larger than you'd find in any other.
Most other mammal species but that.
That Brett sparks something in the brains of the mail that makes him very attracted to that and want to stimulate and it's become has become part.
And I think that one of the purposes of that is to stimulate this maternal Arctic -- bonding system.
That's what it.
Actually that bond between the -- now in the mail.
What's the take -- you want people to have from this book.
I didn't want people to appreciate the fact that there's a lot of chemistry going on their brain and that we know a lot of -- that.
And also that by understanding this chemistry that tells us more than just about -- But we can think about new ways of treating diseases like -- -- -- -- schizophrenia where people have a problem with all kinds of social relationships.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- I wanted people to have an entertaining way to learn about this but also come away with some important messages that we include in the last chapter of the book especially.
Then another and I think we really want people to come away with is the idea that these really have society wide implications.
Mean there are things in the book that both liberals and conservatives love and hate and among the things we talk about is that we have individual social brain but we also have.
-- -- -- society wide social brain and there are things happening in our culture right now that may be interfering with it but I think that's an area of concern.
That's desired effect and Larry young and we're talking -- with -- fill up -- Brian Alexander.
But by no dinner and award winning journalist a doctor young is that Emory university and they've co written.
The chemistry between us.
Love science and the science of attraction.
Not be an -- you mentioned the dichotomy between left and right something in the book that with both appeal and repel.
But liberals and conservatives -- to break that down.
Well I think some conservatives would be a little bit upset -- our notion that.
For example homosexuality is not a choice.
But it's something or transgendered.
It's not a choice but it's something that is organized in the brain chemistry electronically.
Before -- And then you real truth and a well we have we have we certainly have -- and animals that -- single injection of steroid hormone can.
Change that sexuality of that animal and in humans.
We talked with -- investigator named -- -- in -- In -- that has been looking at the brains of both homosexuals and transgendered.
Cubans and -- that he can identify and -- structures that are different between homosexual males and heterosexual man.
We -- animals can be injected with something and chains or sexual preference.
Yes so -- hormone that that actually.
Guys are sexuality before -- it's called testosterone and it's treated by mail at these.
While we're still in utero and that.
Really does shape.
Our brain causes changes in the size of various brain regions that are involved in different behaviors.
And this is what thousands -- boys to engage in bully typical behavior of girls in more nurturing -- typical behaviors.
But it can also be involved in.
They sort of extreme cases.
Person being born thinking that they're different genders and their bodies as.
Does that mean you could also use that on humans and inject a human being -- enough proper hormones proper in terms of it.
Creating a desired effect if you wanted to change somebody's sexual preference.
I don't think there were ever gonna do that in humans but there -- some natural experiments that have happened where for example girls -- Born with a disorder -- -- quote real -- for pleasure and thanks to treat.
Too much antigens and when they grow up they tend to be much more likely to be -- -- in their behavior.
And also more likely to have homosexual tendencies and things of that nature -- -- we go into the in the book in a number of different really interest being.
Sexuality is really.
You know different communities different disorders and -- it really suggests that these chemicals -- are involved in that process.
And Brian let me ask you about the -- -- reverse of that.
What would annoy -- liberals to vote.
Did just what Larry was talking about I mean.
Certain branches of feminism.
Still argue that society essentially imposes.
Gender typical behavior.
Me and we argue strongly in the book that that's really not so Marc gender behavior or gender typical behavior -- start -- -- as our brains are being formed in utero.
I think also the people might be a little upset that we argue that things like single motherhood.
Actually really do matter missed part of the welfare of children and novel -- the welfare of those children.
But of those children's children and so I think there's going to be some people going to be annoyed by that now.
We also argue that for example society can help out a single mother step programs.
You know help nurture and help support.
Somebody like a single parent family that -- actually pay off.
By avoiding trouble later on in life.
What -- and -- -- -- logical standpoint or -- psychological standpoint why would single motherhood.
Be a deterrent or be something that is good for a family.
What we discussed in the -- this idea that.
And anxiety and stress and lack of nurturing behavior.
By the mother to ward.
Her -- -- -- to make those offspring also.
And and not as nurturing mothers later on in life and we we describe the process it's known as FB genetics.
That can make that happen -- animal models and then we talk a little bit about human data that shows for example.
That down -- single mothers it and being deprived economic.
Tend to have babies and -- -- daughters of those mothers also tend to have babies as teenagers and start to have sex much earlier.
Really fascinating look at the book is called the chemistry because -- -- you wanna say something.
Bob dissipated and it's not necessarily the single mother.
Person saying it's the amount of attention and nurturing that the child yet exactly being a single mother affects how much nurturing that -- It's going to affect that child social brain.
And how it relates to -- later in life.
Which is the value of social programs to help boost that sort of -- what's so we're not coming down on single motherhood and out of -- -- -- it's the idea that there's a certain amount of nurturing that really have to happen.
Very interesting doctor Larry young and and Brian Alexander and the book is called the chemistry between us love science and the signs of attraction I thank you both very much.
Thank you and -- thanks so much.