The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

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The Science Behind Love

The+Science+Behind+Love

Have you ever experienced a meet-cute that felt like a scene straight out of a movie? The crowded cafe, the accidental eye contact, and that spark of connection that sent shivers down your spine and placed butterflies in your stomach – we’ve all been there.  These meet-cute moments have a way of making our hearts race, but have you ever wondered about the real force at play that turns a meet-cute into full-blown love? It turns out, the magic is not in our hearts, but in our brains instead. 

It all begins with a look. Your eyes meet theirs, and suddenly, your hypothalamus produces a surge of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. But too much of it isn’t so pleasurable. Dr. Virmani, a physician, describes how “too much dopamine can lead to aggression and impulsiveness while too little can induce mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression. It’s a delicate balance.” 

Spending time together triggers the hypothalamus to release oxytocin, often called the “love hormone.” It lays the foundation for a connection that goes beyond mere attraction. Oxytocin helps you bond and feel all warm and fuzzy towards your partner. Dive into a meaningful conversation, and your prefrontal cortex is activated. This part of your brain, the decision-making hub, is now evaluating the depth of the connection. It’s your brain’s way of asking, “Is this just a fleeting attraction or the real deal?

The olfactory system, often underestimated, becomes an integral part of the experience. Your sense of smell influences emotions and facilitates the creation of long-lasting memories. Senior Kael Moy exclaims “ I’ve always shared cotton candy with loved ones and now every time I smell it I feel really happy.” Certain scents become unforgettable components of the encounter, intensifying the connection on a subconscious level.

Ever found yourself unintentionally mimicking someone you’re into?  Like, if they smile, you find yourself smiling too, or you catch yourself adopting their gestures. Mirror neurons are the reason for the unconscious mimicry. These specialized brain cells, located in areas like the premotor cortex and the inferior parietal cortex, fire not only when we perform an action but also when we observe someone else performing the same action. They play a crucial role in social learning, empathy, and the formation of connections. Keith Xin, a sophomore currently in AP Psych says “ I remember learning about mirror neurons in class but I never knew attraction can also trigger these cells.” 

So the next time you meet someone and are wondering if they reciprocate your feelings, you can ask them if their hypothalamus is releasing loads of dopamine or if their prefrontal cortex is running overtime and you’ll know if there truly is “chemistry” between you guys. 

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