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TUESDAY, FEB. 14, 2012
THE DAILY STAR
Love’s ‘chemistry’ is all about biology
BY CAROLYN BUTLER THE WASHINGTON POST
This Valentine’s Day, as our collective thoughts shift to tender cards, heart-shaped chocolates, overpriced bouquets and other extravagant gestures of love, I can’t help but wonder what really attracts us to one mate over another. Is it hot sex? Fairy-tale romance? Destiny? Or are we merely at the beck and call of our hormones and brain circuitry? Online dating sites trumpet their knack at identifying “chemistry,” but it turns out that basic biology may play at least as strong a role in love as do socialization, environment, fate and other factors. “We like to feel independent and free of the brain systems that regulate the mating habits and regimens of animals, but the fact is that we’re not,” said neuroendocrinologist Tom Sherman, an associate professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. “The latest research indicates that some of our very complex behaviors — like love, courtship and pair bonding — are still regulated, to some degree, by a fairly simple set of neurochemicals.” Indeed, researchers have now identified three brain systems that are at work in mating and reproduction: lust, which is primarily mediated Helen Fisher | biological anthropologist at Rutgers University by the sex hormone testosterone; romantic love, which is primarily mediated by dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives the brain’s reward and and fall madly in love with one person rather than pleasure centers, and is characterized by craving another. “The reality is that we’ve got a very strong, and focused attention for just one person at a time; powerful brain system for romantic love, and it can and attachment, which is primarily mediated by the get triggered at any moment, but we will not fall in hormones oxytocin and vasopressin and is associated love with everyone that comes along: We have preferwith the bonding and security you often feel with a ences, and those have to do, in part, with the way that our brain is built,” she explains. long-term partner. However, it remains to be seen how big a part neuThese systems vary from person to person and can function discretely, together, or in all sorts of combi- rochemicals and brain circuits play in love and relanations, said one of the researchers, Helen Fisher, a tionships. “It’s hard to weed out how much is sociological and biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and the author of “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemis- how much is biological,” said Lisa Diamond, an as-
try of Romantic Love.” “That’s why you can feel deep attachment for one person, then swing into wild romantic love for someone else, then switch on the Internet, look at pornography and feel a sex drive that has nothing to do with any of those,” she said. “You can also look across the table and feel all of that for the same person, which is what we want on Valentine’s Day.” Fisher adds that the interplay of such brain systems, along with the neurotransmitter serotonin, clearly lead to variations in temperament, which help explain why you can walk into a crowded room
‘You can feel deep attachment for one person, then swing into wild romantic love for someone else, then switch on the Internet, look at pornography and feel a sex drive that has nothing to do with any of those.’
sociate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. “We know that there are huge cultural differences in the way we socialize women and men [about love and relationships], and now we know from animal research that there are biological differences.” Because I am a romantic at heart, I will point out that one thing that researchers have suggested is that, while it is normal for the passion of initial romance to fade, it is also possible for deep, fervent love to persist. A study published last year in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that couples who had been married an average of 21 years and who reported still being intensely in love with their spouses exhibited the same brain activity, including in the dopamine-rich reward system, as those who had just fallen for each other. But there were also some important differences: Only those in the first stages of romance exhibited activity in a brain region linked with anxiety, while the long-term couples showed activity in an area linked with calm. “That makes sense, because when you’ve just fallen in love, you’re pretty anxious: Will he call? Am I too fat? Why did I say that? But when you’re in love with the person you’ve had children with and been married to for 21 years, you’re not anxious, but you can still want to come home from work, share your night, make love and still be with him or her,” said co-author Fisher. “So love can certainly last, and we found this in the brain.” Those paramours looking for a last-minute Valentine’s date, tawke note: Diamond said that other, related research has shown that couples who stay passionate about each other report that they continue to pursue novel, exciting activities together. “The idea of trying something new that’s maybe a little bit stressful with your partner — with his or her support — seems to be a magical combination,” she explained. Hang gliding with your honey this afternoon, anyone?
TUESDAY, FEB. 14, 2012
THE DAILY STAR
Police probe casino attack on N.Y. senator
because it is part of the investigation. In a police report, a 29-year-old woman said she was escorting her husband, who had injured his knee, out of the casino’s hotel lounge when Grisanti ran over and hit them. On Monday, Grisanti denied hitting anyone after the fight. While it was under way, he said he broke away from security guards who were trying to restrain him as he tried to get to his wife. Grisanti “I went in there and was making these sweeping motions to clear people out. If somebody got hit in any circumstance, whatsoever, it’s too bad because my wife was on the bottom in that pile and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said. Grisanti was expected to give his statement to police later in the week, Thomson said. The first-term Republican said he and his wife had attended a fundraising gala for the Seneca Diabetes Foundation at the casino because their daughter was performing at the function with the Buffalo singing act, the Scintas. They were in a lobby around 11:30 p.m. when they encountered two men arguing. Grisanti said he asked the men to calm down. When he identified himself, he said one of the men cursed and accused him of hating the Seneca Nation before punching him. As the men scuffled, Maria Grisanti said she was attacked by two women who appeared to be with the man fighting with her husband. She said she was thrown to the ground and then punched while one of the women pulled her hair out and repeatedly slammed her head on the floor. Asked whether security video showed Maria Grisanti being thrown to the ground, Thomson said, “I don’t think she was slammed to the ground, but during an altercation, she ended up on the ground.”
BUFFALO (AP) — A New York senator involved in a fight at a casino that left him with bruised ribs and his wife with a concussion is disputing a woman’s claim that he punched her and her husband as they left the building. “I didn’t hit anybody after the incident,” Grisanti told reporters in Albany on Monday, as police and Seneca Indian Nation officials continued to investigate the Friday night brawl at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls. Grisanti said he was trying to defuse an argument between two men at the tribal casino when he was punched in the chest and head. His wife, Maria, said she was attacked by two women who slammed her head on the floor. As of Monday, no charges had been filed. Niagara Falls police were inviting those involved to provide their accounts of what happened, much of which was caught on casino security cameras, Capt. William Thomson said. “The video speaks for itself,” said Thomson, declining to discuss specifics
NEWS BRIEFS Police: Driver crashes into pond while talking on cellphone
PLEASANT VALLEY (AP) — Authorities said firefighters had to rescue a woman from her partially submerged sport utility vehicle after she crashed into a Hudson Valley pond while using her cellphone. State police said that 44-year-old Theresa McGowan of Poughkeepsie was driving around noon Sunday in the town of Pleasant Valley when her SUV went off the road and into a pond. Troopers said McGowan climbed out of the vehicle’s sunroof and was rescued minutes later by emergency crews from the town’s fire department. Police said McGowan suffered minor facial injuries and was treated at a Poughkeepsie hospital. State police said the crash is being investigated.
N.Y. Senate hosts hearing on distracted driving
Legislators move to crack down on prescription drug trafficking
to the same restricted group as oxycodone. That would require a new prescription each time, with no refills. Another Senate-passed bill would increase criminal penalties for physicians and pharmacists who illegally divert prescription drugs. “In 2010, New York practitioners issued 22 million painkiller prescriptions, not including refills,” said Sen. Kemp Hannon, a Long Island Republican. “Twenty-two million, that’s more than we have New Yorkers.” A bill backed by the state’s Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would curb the black market by requiring “real time” online review and reporting by prescribers and pharmacists of each prescription written and filled for a patient. The bill now has 30 Senate and 47 Assembly co-sponsors. The attorney general’s office cited federal data showing an increase from 1998 to 2008 of drug treatment admissions from 2.2 percent to 9.8 percent for painkiller abuse, with emergency department admissions from misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals doubling between 2004 and 2009.
ALBANY (AP) — With New York medical practitioners issuing more painkiller prescriptions in one year than the state has residents, the Senate passed legislation Monday meant to curb the illegal trade and illicit use of hydrocodone and other addictive opioid drugs. One bill would reclassify hydrocodone, which is sold as Vicodin, Norco and Lortab,
ALBANY (AP) — The vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board is set to testify at a New York Senate hearing on distracted driving. In December, the NTSB called for a nationwide ban on driver use of portable electronic devices. Christopher Hart, vice chairman of the agency, will talk about the proposal at a Senate hearing Monday in Albany. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 5,400 people were killed and an estimated 448,000 were injured nationwide in crashes involving distracted driving in 2009. Others testifying at Monday’s hearing include State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico, Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala, and representatives of AAA, Auto Alliance and Toyota.