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The Biological Basis for Love

There are a lot of cliches about love: that men should woo women with chocolate, that women feel emotional while guys feel sexual, that men in love get careless with money, that having sex will make you fall in love. Surprise!?It turns out that scientists have found a biological basis for every one of these.

Using MRI scans, researchers found activity in the areas of the brain which are linked to energy and elation in people who claimed to be in love. But women's brains showed emotional responses, while men's responses were mostly sexual. Other areas of the brain changed as well?including one that's activated when people eat chocolate.

These areas have high levels of dopamine, a chemical linked to feelings of pleasure. Dopamine gives lovers' brains a buzz that's similar to taking drugs. Researcher John Marsden says, "Attraction and lust really is like a drug. It leaves you wanting more."

The more two people have sex together, the more likely they are to stay together. "We all know you can have sex without falling in love but if you have enough sex with the same person there's a good chance you will hit the body's booby-trap which is there to tip you head over heels into love," says Marsden.

We have built-in protectors against incest, which we consider immoral but our body considers an unwise way to redistribute genes. Marsden says, "We tend to go for the smell of somebody who has a very different immune system and that stops you fancying your family." Danny Penman writes in New Scientist about psychologists who have proved that when they?re in love, men become careless with money. Men were shown pictures of either average women or truly beautiful women, and both groups were offered either a check for a small amount of money right away or one for twice as much in the future. The men who saw the average-looking women opted for future gains, but those who glimpsed the beautiful babes chose to take the smaller check right away.

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