Weekly Round-Up



Does a part of our brain host its own fight club?

In this week’s round-up of the latest discoveries and research in the field of neuroscience – the science of falling in love, the brain’s own fight club and how blogging may hold the secret of making boys write properly.

Continuing with the Valentine’s theme this week, Judy Foreman examines the scientific basis of falling in love.

In the Feb. 10 online issue of Current Biology, a Johns Hopkins team led by neuroscientists Ed Connor and Kechen Zhang describes what appears to be the next step in understanding how the brain compresses visual information down to the essentials.

In Itching for a Fight Science News carries the story that a small part of our brain hosts its very own fight club.

And finally, a report in The Independent newspaper on how blogging may have solved one of the most pressing problems that has perplexed the education world for years: how to get boys to write properly.

How cupid’s arrows find their mark inside your brain

Your brain in love

Men and women can now thank a dozen brain regions for their romantic fervor. Researchers have revealed the fonts of desire by comparing functional MRI studies of people who indicated they were experiencing passionate love, maternal love or unconditional love. Together, the regions release neuro­transmitters and other chemicals in the brain and blood that prompt greater euphoric sensations such as attraction and pleasure. Conversely, psychiatrists might someday help individuals who become dan­gerously depressed after a heartbreak by adjusting those chemicals.

Passion also heightens several cognitive functions, as the brain regions and chemicals surge. “It’s all about how that network interacts,” says Stephanie Ortigue, an assistant professor of psychology at Syracuse University, who led the study. The cognitive functions, in turn, “are triggers that fully activate the love network.”

Tell that to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day!

Graphics by James W. Lewis, West Virginia University (brain), and Jen Christiansen.

Source: Scientific American