the head and the heart: a valentine to the brain

One of the best things about writing (publicly) about love–and I think I’ve said this before–is that people send me love stories. They send me articles and images and videos, and I have not yet gotten tired of receiving them.

On Valentine’s Day in particular love stories abound, and they run the gamut from saccharine to sad; some are so full of the right kind of sweetness that my eyes go glassy on the bus ride home from work, and others are more like the middle-aged couple beside me at the bar tonight who dedicated their dinner hour to some heavy hand-holding. Later, I was unsettled to find them standing beside my bicycle and making out in that slow-yet-aggressive way that includes certain unconscionable suction noises that neither my loud jokes nor my flashing LEDs could modify.

For most of today, I was content to read the love stories, the one about the nun and the monk, the letter from a wife to her husband’s student, the photo essay of marriages that survived half a century, even the dog and the box of chocolates. But on my bus ride home, tear-ducts prickling as I listened to yet another love story (what is it with tears and transit?), it occurred to me that one who keeps a blog about love stories–and receives them via e-mail and reads them in between classes–ought to post a Valentine, even if at the eleventh hour. So here it is, friends, the most lovely of love stories I saw, read, or heard today (collected both on and off the bus). It includes lots of beeping, whirring and mechanical noises, but no suctioning, I promise.

This is ostensibly a story about science (though the science itself seems a bit shaky, even by the researcher’s own admission). What really got me, however, was not the data gathered from the subjects, but the participants’ post-experiment radiance, their astonishment at their own capacity for love. After just five minutes spent meditating on a loved one in an fMRI machine, even those most infatuated seem to surprise themselves, as if the machine stuffed the love into their brains rather than measuring what was already there. By internet standards, it’s not a short video–about fifteen minutes long–so wait until you’re settled on the couch (or bus seat, as the case may be) with a bottle of beer and a dog at your ankles and a few minutes to yourself. It’s worth the watch, even if–especially if–you haven’t spent your day doing any heavy hand-holding.

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4 thoughts on “the head and the heart: a valentine to the brain

  1. Hey Mandy! I’m trying to watch the video but apparently, it’s private! Is there anything I can do about this? Thanks Mandy!

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