2007 Conference on Neuroesthetics

The Neurobiology of Love

What is this thing called love, which has been described as “a catastrophe – but a highly desirable catastrophe” and in the service of which humans have reached the heights and plumbed the depths of experience? Why is our judgment often blurred or suspended when we fall passionately in love? Why does it lead to euphoria and depression? What is its chemistry? Why are voles and birds and humans sometimes monogamous and sometimes polygamous? Why does the world literature of love so often paint a gloomy picture - of adulterous lovers who seek an escape in its, and their own, annihilation - and what neurobiological lessons can we draw from that literature? 

Leading neurobiologists discussed these issues and presented their latest findings at the Sixth International Meeting on Neuroesthetics.


Larry Young
 Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, USA
"Molecular neurobiology of Pair Bonding"

Bart Kempenaers
 Department of Behavioural Ecology & Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany
"The function of love in an evolutionary context: from monogamy to promiscuity"

Andreas Bartels
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany
"The Neurobiology of Human Bonding"

Mario Beauregard
Associate Researcher, Departments of Psychology and Radiology, Neuroscience Research Center, Université de Montréal, Montreal (Quebec) Canada
"From Eros to Agape: Neural Correlates of Sexual Arousal and Compassionate Love"

Donatella Marazziti
Professor of Psychiatry, Director of the laboratory of Psychopharmacology, Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie, University of Pisa, Italy
"The Neurobiology of Love"

Gert Holstege
Professor of Neuro-anatomy, Chairman, Department of Anatomy and Embryology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
"Brain Activity During Male and Female Orgasms"

Semir Zeki
Professor of Neurobiology, University College London, UK
"The Biological Concepts of Unity-in-Love and Annihilation-in-Love"