Ever since the dawn of time have human beings tried to find ways to ‘help along’ love connections. Various love potions have been concocted, but of course nowadays we know very well these potions are don’t work. Still, scientists remain fascinated and keep pursuing this age-old quest to determine what makes people fall in love and to find a way to ‘help along’ love. Last November British scientists at the University of Aberdeen and Sterling reported their findings that a person’s attractiveness is greatly increased, if he or she directly looks at another person (AC reported). Now scientists at the University of California San Diego have confirmed these results and taken them a step further. They discovered the involvement of a ‘love hormone’. Could this discovery supply they key ingredient to a love potion that really works?
Falling in love is not always as easy as it sounds. More often than not the object of one’s desire has no interest whatsoever. And while being sexy is hereditary, it is not always enough, even for those blessed with perfect beauty. Therefore, since ancient times human beings have sought out ways to help love a little along. Various love potions have been concocted. Even today a quick google of the word combination ‘love potion’ can bring up numerous results, including recipes and perfumes, all promising the desired outcome: Love. Most of us know these love potions can’t live up to their promise, but we still often consider it ‘fun’. Any evidence of a love potion is anecdotal. Most likely the potion provided the user with the much-needed boost of confidence to more strongly pursue the desired person. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
There are of course various other ways to appear more attractive to others. And besides those obvious love potions there are more or less subtle products available, which are supposed to enhance a person’s attractiveness. There are sexy clothes, perfumes, make-up, creams, plastic surgery…. just to name a few.
Behavior of course is an important criterion as well. This does not only mean good manners, but more importantly body language. The study results of the British scientists at the University of Aberdeen and Sterling confirm this. These researchers determined that the secret to being perceived as attractive lies in directly looking at another person. This perception increases significantly, if one smiles and directly looks at a person of the opposite sex.
But what is at work behind this? What causes us to perceive a person as attractive just by looking at them? Hormones play an important role in our body and often govern how we feel. Could there be a hormone at work that attracts people to each other?
These were the questions the scientists at the University of California San Diego asked themselves. They found that this gaze into somebody’s eyes essentially could form early bonds that permanently alter a person’s brain and body.
The scientists were researching for a possible treatment for patients suffering from schizophrenia, autism, social anxiety, and other disorders. These patients often have bonding issues, and trouble to look at other people. In their study they investigated a brain hormone, oxytocin, which is released, when one experiences touches and hugs, and during bonding time between a mother and her newborn baby. Coincidentally, this particular hormone also plays a part in pair bonding and the human sexual response cycle.
The researchers believe that oxytocin alters brain signals related to social recognition through facial expression. They think the brain chemical changes the firing of the amygdala, a brain part responsible for the processing of important emotional stimuli.
Eye-to-eye communication by directly staring at somebody is essentially a type of communication of several emotions such as fear, anxiety, but more importantly, trust and love. Therefore, oxytocin has also been dubbed the ‘love hormone’.
Patients suffering from schizophrenia, social anxiety, and autism usually avoid directly looking at somebody. Eye contact is avoided. The scientists hope that with the help of oxytocin such patients might get the necessary emotional boost to reach higher levels of trust and emotional connection to parents, loved ones, and their physicians and therapists.
The scientists point out that previous studies on healthy human beings showed that intranasal doses of oxytocin made them act differently, even though they claimed they did not feel differently. The test subjects brain activity in regard to fear decreased, while eye contact, trust, and generosity increased.
Further studies are necessary to determine the exact effects of oxytocin on the brain. And while the primary purpose of these studies is to find an effective treatment method for patients with schizophrenia, autism, social anxiety, and other disorders, a beneficial side effect might be the determination of a key ingredient for a love potion that actually works. There is still hope for all of those, whose quests for love have been left unanswered.
Oxytocin is already commercially produced. It is known as Pitocin and is used to induce labor and lactation in women.