How Biology Prepares Us for Love and Connection

How Biology Prepares Us for Love and Connection

Our brains and bodies are wired for empathy, cooperation, generosity, and connection.

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Humans are social creatures with a propensity to connect with others and to form relationships. Our relationships can be sources of fun, gratification, peace, well-being, obsession, love, pain, and grief. They inform the rhythms of our days, the work that we do, and how we feel about ourselves-and they add meaning to our lives.

But our social nature isn’t just a product of the way we are raised or the culture we live in. It’s actually visible in the design and function of our brains and the inner workings of our bodies, which have evolved to support our complex muito jovem sexy Australiano menina adolescente social lives.

“To the extent that we can characterize evolution as designing our modern brains, this is what our brains were wired for: reaching out to and interacting with others,” writes neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman in his book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.

We are each equipped with biological mechanisms that underlie our ability to empathize, cooperate, give, and love. These neural circuits underpin all of our relationships, beginning at birth-and maybe even before.

Wired for empathy

Anyone who’s winced when they’ve watched a child skin their knee or witnessed a loved one’s intense grief knows how visceral empathy can feel. Our ability to empathize, to resonate with people’s pain and emotions, is an important driver of how we relate to others.

In fact, a study by neuroscientist Tor Wager and his colleagues found that we have a brain circuit dedicated specifically to empathic care-the positive, motivating feelings that drive us to help others in order to relieve their suffering. This circuit includes the nucleus accumbens and the medial orbitofrontal cortex, brain areas involved in rewarding activities like eating and sex.

By incentivizing our ability to feel warmth and care in the face of another person’s suffering, activation of this circuit encourages acts of selflessness and compassion.

Wired for cooperation and generosity

This is exemplified in a study by anthropologist James Rilling and his colleagues. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of 36 women while they each played a game based on the prisoner’s dilemma with one other woman. In this game, a player behaving selfishly could win $60 and their partner would win nothing. If both players cooperated, they both would win $40.

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While participants stood to gain more through making selfish choices, mutual cooperation was the most popular outcome. When partners had mutually cooperative interactions, brain regions involved in reward processing were activated. The researchers propose that this pattern of brain activation is “involved in sustaining cooperative social relationships, perhaps by labeling cooperative social interactions as rewarding, and/or by inhibiting the selfish impulse to accept but not reciprocate an act of altruism.”

The reward system is also activated when people make anonymous charitable donations, according to another study. This suggests that human brains are wired to be able to extend altruism beyond people we know into a more abstract sense of care toward a group of strangers or a moral cause-and feel good doing it.

Wired for love

Relationships are key to our health and happiness and likely were essential for the survival of our ancestors. As such, it makes sense that our brains are well-equipped to begin forming bonds with others as soon as we are born.

In fact, researcher Martha Welch’s “calming cycle theory” hypothesizes that the earliest relationship-between mother and infant-actually begins before birth via the co-conditioning of mother’s and baby’s autonomic nervous systems.

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