Diane Ackerman: The Brain on Love

Snip from an essay in the New York Times today about the neuroscience of romantic love, by author Diane Ackerman:

While they were both in the psychology department of Stony Brook University, Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron scanned the brains of long-married couples who described themselves as still “madly in love.” Staring at a picture of a spouse lit up their reward centers as expected; the same happened with those newly in love (and also with cocaine users). But, in contrast to new sweethearts and cocaine addicts, long-married couples displayed calm in sites associated with fear and anxiety. Also, in the opiate-rich sites linked to pleasure and pain relief, and those affiliated with maternal love, the home fires glowed brightly.

The Brain on Love (NYT)


  1. As much as I love Ackerman’s poetry I also really enjoy her writing about science. She’s also a wonderful public speaker who’s great to listen to read from and discuss her own work, or the work of others.

    The first time I saw Ackerman in person was when she came to give a talk at the university campus where I work. On my way to the talk there was a group of people in front of me. They were all wearing very conservative gray or navy suits except for a dark-haired woman in their midst who was wearing a bright magenta dress and a lot of jewelry. I was tempted to stop them and ask if she was Diane Ackerman, but then I said to myself that it was stupid to assume that just because she was a poet known for her vibrant language that she’d dress like that.

    And naturally when I got to the reading it turned out to be her.

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