The science of sex, love, attraction, and obsession

The symbol for love is the heart, but the brain may be more accurate.

  • How love makes us feel can only be defined on an individual basis, but what it does to the body, specifically the brain, is now less abstract thanks to science.
  • One of the problems with early-stage attraction, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, is that it activates parts of the brain that are linked to drive, craving, obsession, and motivation, while other regions that deal with decision-making shut down.
  • Dr. Fisher, professor Ted Fischer, and psychiatrist Gail Saltz explain the different types of love, explore the neuroscience of love and attraction, and share tips for sustaining relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial.

Consciousness: The 'ghost in the machine', or nothing special?

Science has not yet reached a consensus on the nature of consciousness.

As individuals, we feel that we know what consciousness is because we experience it daily.
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Researchers identify genes linked to severe repetitive behaviors

A lab identifies which genes are linked to abnormal repetitive behaviors found in addiction and schizophrenia.

Image: Jill Crittenden
Extreme repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, body-rocking, skin-picking, and sniffing are common to a number of brain disorders including autism, schizophrenia, Huntington's disease, and drug addiction.
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Self-awareness is what makes us human

Because of our ability to think about thinking, "the gap between ape and man is immeasurably greater than the one between amoeba and ape."

Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK via Getty Images
  • Self-awareness — namely, our capacity to think about our thoughts — is central to how we perceive the world.
  • Without self-awareness, education, literature, and other human endeavors would not be possible.
  • Striving toward greater self-awareness is the spiritual goal of many religions and philosophies.
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Study: Tripping might not be required for psychedelic therapy

Two different studies provide further evidence of the efficacy of psychedelics in treating depression.

Photo: agsandrew / Adobe Stock
  • A phase 2 clinical trial by Imperial College London found psilocybin to be as effective at treating depression as escitalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant.
  • A different study by the University of Maryland showed that blocking the hallucinogenic effects of magic mushrooms in mice did not reduce the antidepressant effect.
  • Combined, these studies could lead to new ways of applying psychedelics to patient populations that don't want to trip.
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