Science of dating attraction
Dopamine, produced by the hypothalamus, is a particularly well-publicized player in the brain’s reward pathway – it’s released when we do things that feel good to us.
In this case, these things include spending time with loved ones and having sex.
Each category is characterized by its own set of hormones stemming from the brain (Table 1).
Oxytocin is often nicknamed “cuddle hormone” for this reason.
Last but not least, attachment is the predominant factor in long-term relationships.
While lust and attraction are pretty much exclusive to romantic entanglements, attachment mediates friendships, parent-infant bonding, social cordiality, and many other intimacies as well.
In fact, norepinephrine, also known as noradrenalin, may sound familiar because it plays a large role in the fight or flight response, which kicks into high gear when we’re stressed and keeps us alert.
Brain scans of people in love have actually shown that the primary “reward” centers of the brain, including the and the caudate nucleus (Figure 1), fire like crazy when people are shown a photo of someone they are intensely attracted to, compared to when they are shown someone they feel neutral towards (like an old high school acquaintance).