Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Neuroreductionism about sex and love

Neuroreductionism about sex and love | Brian D. Earp – Academia.edu.

Excerpt from the 2014 paper **

Abstract
“Neuroreductionism” is the tendency to reduce complex mental phenomena to brainstates, confusing correlation for physical causation. In this paper, we illustrate thedangers of this popular neuro-fallacy, by looking at an example drawn from the media: astory about “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” in women. We discuss the role of folkdualism in perpetuating such a confusion, and draw some conclusions about the role of“brain scans” in our understanding of romantic love.
* * *There has been a surge of interest in recent years in “the neuroscience of love.” Bylooking at images of people’s brains when they are gazing pictures of their romantic partner, forexample, and comparing those against images of the same people looking at pictures of aplatonic friend, scientists have begun to construct a picture of “what is going on in our brains”when we we’re in love. They’re also starting to identify a number of brain chemicals—such asoxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin—that seem to play in role in whether and how we formromantic and other social attachments.
For some people, this research is exciting—opening upnew frontiers for how we understand some of our most basic human experiences. For others, it’sa little bit unsettling. Doesn’t it suggest that “love”—our most prized and mysterious emotion—is really just a bunch of stupid brain chemicals swirling around in our skulls?The answer is yes and no.
At one level of description,everything that we experience,from, yes, falling in love, to, say, getting a stomach ache after eating a burrito, is (at least in principle) explainable in terms of microscopic events playing out between our neurons. But there are many different levels of description—including psychological, social, cultural, and even philosophical—that are just as important if we want to have a more complete understanding ofthe sorts of things that matter to us in our daily existence.
“Brain chemicals” only get us so far…….
***
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July 2, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ability To Love Takes Root In Earliest Infancy

From the 26 December Medical News Today article

The ability to trust, love, and resolve conflict with loved ones starts in childhood – way earlier than you may think. That is one message of a new review of the literature inCurrent Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science. “Your interpersonal experiences with your mother during the first 12 to 18 months of life predict your behavior in romantic relationships 20 years later,” says psychologist Jeffry A. Simpson, the author, with University of Minnesota colleagues W. Andrew Collins and Jessica E. Salvatore. “Before you can remember, before you have language to describe it, and in ways you aren’t aware of, implicit attitudes get encoded into the mind,” about how you’ll be treated or how worthy you are of love and affection.

While those attitudes can change with new relationships, introspection, and therapy, in times of stress old patterns often reassert themselves. The mistreated infant becomes the defensive arguer; the baby whose mom was attentive and supportive works through problems, secure in the goodwill of the other person…

…The good news: “If you can figure out what those old models are and verbalize them,” and if you get involved with a committed, trustworthy partner, says Simpson, “you may be able to revise your models and calibrate your behavior differently.” Old patterns can be overcome. A betrayed baby can become loyal. An unloved infant can learn to love.

 

Read the entire Medical News Today article

 

 

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romantic Love: Nature’s Painkiller?

In study of lovesick undergrads, it seemed to squelch pain as much as being distracted

From an October 14, 2010 Health Day news item

THURSDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) — In a study involving a group of lovelorn Stanford undergrads, researchers discovered that high-octane romantic love might be a natural analgesic.

Love’s painkilling effect isn’t just that the person is distracted by thoughts of the loved one — although that works, too. Instead, the researchers found that feeling “head-over-heels” activates the same dopamine-oriented centers of the brain that tune in to illicit drugs such as cocaine.

“These pain-relieving systems are linked to reward systems,” said Dr. Sean Mackey, senior author of a paper appearing online Oct. 13 in PLoS One. “Love engages these deep brain systems that are involved with reward and craving and similar systems involved in addiction.”

“This gives us some insight into potential ways of further probing and ultimately translating that into treatment for pain,” added Mackey, who is chief of the pain management division at Stanford University School of Medicine….

Researchers flashed the picture of the beloved while inflicting pain with a handheld thermal probe. As a control, participants were asked to name every sport that doesn’t involve a ball, a form of distraction, while also activating the probe.

“To our pleasant surprise, both love and distraction reduce pain to an equal amount and that was good because it more fully allowed us to compare them,” Mackey explained.

The pain relief afforded by looking at the picture of the beloved seemed specific to that act — when participants were asked to look at a picture of an equally attractive and familiar acquaintance, their pain levels did not recede…

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

   

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