01 June 2011


Several recent studies shed new light on the biological processes associated with how we feel. Check out each one to see whether the results resonate with your experience.

Researchers at Columbia University have found that in our brains, there is an area of overlap which shows neural activity whether the pain we feel is physical or emotional. "The theory is that the parts of the brain that process social rejection developed by co-opting brain circuits responsible for physical pain .... social rejection and physical pain are similar not only in that they are distressing, they share a common representation in somatosensory brain systems as well." In short, heartache is more than just a figure of speech.

Another study by Andrea Kuszewski explains the neurochemical changes which take place when we are attracted to someone, and when we engage in sex. Of prime interest are the release of dopamine (linked to attraction, arousal, desire, and pleasure) and oxytocin (linked to attachment). "The dopamine-oxytocin (DO) combo is the reason why after having sex with someone, you suddenly feel more bonded to them emotionally." Well, most of us do.

At the University of British Columbia, a new study on sexual attractiveness discovered a significant gender difference in the relationship between emotions and attraction, specifically when it comes to .... smiles. "The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful, or moody and ashamed. In contrast, male participants were most sexually attracted to women who looked happy, and least attracted to women who appeared proud and confident." (I guess I'm an outlier -- I find all three traits attractive.)

Lastly, for pure pleasure, take a peek at the images in Tiny People's Wonderful World of Food. The whimsy and creativity that went into this series of mini-tableaux are a delight.

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