What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Dirty Minds: The Neurobiology of Love

March 11, 2012, 12:00 AM

What's the Big Idea?

There’s a revolution going on in neuroscience, says science writer Kayt Sukel, and it’s happening on two fronts. One way the science is changing: researchers are finally beginning to include both male and female subjects in their studies. Another is epigenetics, a new way of understanding the centuries-old nature versus nurture debate.

Watch Kayt Sukel discuss epigenetics:

Epigeneticists look at the different ways a gene is expressed over an individual organism’s lifetime, rather than the way they’re passed along over an epoch. In the epigenetic framework, your genes are seen as predilections, not as destiny: switches that can be turned off or turned on by your environment, without changing the underlying DNA sequence. For example, some people have a predisposition to get psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder of the skin. But it takes a traumatic physical or emotional event for the disease to actually appear.

What's the Significance?

We’re not slaves to our biology, and neither are we shaped entirely by our circumstances. Instead, we’re the product of a complex process of interactions between our bodies and environment. So what does that tell us about the neurobiology of love?

“In the studies that have been done thus far, there is a unique signature for passionate love, for attachment, for maternal love, and even for unconditional love,” she says—meaning that these emotions can be traced through functional magnetic imaging. Researchers show subjects a photo of their beloved during an MRI scan, and trace the area of the brain that lights up. But like all biology, the full story is more elaborate, and far more interesting.

It’s possible to measure it that way, but again, we have to go back to that idea of, what are these neuroimaging studies really telling us? Right now, [MRI tracks] oxygen molecules as they move through the brain. And the idea is, the more blood that flows through a particular region, the more it’s being used. So we say that a neuroimaging study tells us this part of the brain is responsible for that. But it’s correlational. We’re now learning that it’s not just an area, it’s how a group of areas work together and how these circuits work together that are more important for particular behaviors.

In other words, if you’re looking for proof, you’re not going to find it. If you’re interested in the discovery, that’s exactly what Kayt will be writing about in her new blog, World in Mind.


Dirty Minds: The Neurobiolo...

Newsletter: Share: