Pain, pleasure and the science of love with Siri Leknes
Science & Cocktails
Why are close relationships so important? Does the pain of a broken heart mimic the pain of a broken arm? Why can pain sometimes feel good? Why do we love the pain of chili peppers? What happens in the nervous system that makes us perceive something as good or bad, pleasant or painful?
Life offers many pleasures and pains – not least within the domain of love. Oxytocin is often called “the love hormone” and its concentration in human blood was recently found to be 100 times higher than previously thought. It is supposed to be responsible for emotional bounds between mother and child and for empathy in general. But can we rely on oxytocin to turn humankind from war-making to love-making?
Siri Leknes and her lab has been involved in so many studies on the science of love, pain and pleasure. Her research gives plausible explanations for why some people enjoy sadomasochistic sex or can even persevere through intense chili-eating marathons. Leknes will discuss how the brain’s endorphin and oxytocin systems contribute to love and well-being in humans and other animals.
But how well can these things be measured? Leknes will discuss her collaboration with chemists to develop new and more accurate measuring methods for these small molecules in human beings. What’s known – and what’s not – about how the brain deals with pain, pleasure and other aspects of human love and the neurochemistry of love and well-being will be the topic of this fantastic evening.
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