The Elixir of Love

30 September 2001


Love potions might exist after all because scientists from Emory University in Georgia have found a hormone that makes male voles fall in love. It makes them more faithful to females and more friendly to fellow males. The researchers have found that by making the same part of the brain that is normally responsible for addiction more sensitive to the hormone vasopressin, male voles quite literally become addicted to their female partners. To test this theory they put pairs of male and female voles together in a cage, increased the levels of vasopressin receptors in the males' brains, and waited for 17 hours. They then put an extra female into the cage and found that the males much preferred to spend time with the first vole than the second. But, Males with normal levels of vasopressin receptors were equally interested in both females. The scientists suggest that this result could help us to understand the human disorder autism in which sufferers find it hard to bond with other people. It also adds weight to the claim that love is indeed an addiction. (Journal of Neuroscience 2001 21: 7392).


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