A new brain scan can measure the love one feels, but what if the science doesn't match the feeling?
What if there were a way to measure exactly how your partner feels about you? Would you want to know the results?
On May 18, neuroscientist Lucy Brown appeared on the Today show to reveal her new brain scan that she says can decipher whether someone is in love with his or her spouse. To test this, she scanned the brain of A.J. Jacobs, an editor-at-large at Esquire. Three different brain systems were scanned to measure lust, romance and attachment. Love, Brown asserts, is the combination of these feelings. For each scan, Jacobs looked at different pictures of his wife in order to measure his diverse feelings for her.
According to Brown, we feel lust for those we're attracted to, which can be anyone and is the basis of reproduction. Romance is what draws us into a relationship with a specific person and when love is first felt. Attachment is how committed a person is to raising a family with their spouse.
When scanning Jacobs, it was found that he still had a strong attraction to his wife, but felt very little romance toward her. His feelings of attachment mirorred his feelings of lust. These results illustrate that the first intense feelings of love and romance had dissolved, but that he still was attracted to her and felt a strong desire to raise their family together. Read: Decoding Love: Forget Romance, Embrace Science
While all of this is fascinating to learn about, does it mean every married couple should put their feelings to the test? Probably not. Problems can arise if the test results are different from what a person thinks he/she is feeling, as it would be confusing to decide which to trust: inner feelings or scientific data?
It could be reassuring for a couple to find out that their expected results are true. But if the scan results are different from what they think they feel for each other, then what? Would a couple who thought they were in love stay together if the scan told them otherwise? It would be difficult to trust your feelings after science said you didn't feel them.
In Jacobs case, science proved helpful. Because he is still attracted to his wife and wants to stay with her, he can do certain things to recapture those first intense romantic feelings. The Dirty Dancing Guide to Romance
Would you want you and your partner to be scanned? Tell us in the comments below.