If you could slip a drug in your crush's drink to make him fall for you, would you do it? If you were in love with the wrong person and you could take a pill to forgot all about him, would you swallow it? If there were a test you could administer to a first date to see if he'd be a good mate, would you make him take it?
It sounds like fiction, but the above fantasies may some day become reality, according to a report published in the heavy-hitting science journal, Nature.
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We've heard the "love is a drug" theory before, but researcher Larry Young believes love can be explained by a specific pattern of events in the brain—so specific, in fact, that scientists may be able to replicate it. It starts with the chemical oxytocin, a hormone that helps mothers bond with their new babies—Young thinks that this neurotransmitter and other chemicals are responsible for romantic love, and that scientists will one day discover how it all works.
Once we've identified the way the brain controls feelings of love, will we be able to manipulate the chemicals, and thus, our feelings? Young says yes. In the same way that Prozac helps patients through depression, a love potion may help married couples navigate rough patches or assist heartbroken folks in getting over their ex's.
But don’t worry: the fact that chemicals are responsible for love doesn't mean that we're automatons controlled by molecules in our brain. You can actually change the amount of certain compounds in your gray matter: seeing someone you're hot for and acting on your feelings can raise levels of oxytocin and other love hormones.
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No word on when these love drugs will be on the market—and it may be a while, due to ethical issues they raise. Until then we'll have to go the old-fashioned route: flirting (to attract him) kissing (to check compatibility) and ice cream (after you've broken up).