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What's Love Got To Do With It?

          In my last web paper, I latched onto the idea of desire preceding all sexual acts.  I found a few intriguing articles with various studies using focus groups of men and women and monitoring their response to stimuli.  It came out that desire might actually come after sex: a neurological response that allows human beings to engage emotionally with their mate/potential mate.  This time, I’m taking a look at the history of sexual response by taking a cue from Darwin.  Psychologist Geoffrey Miller wrote a paper entitled The Mating Mind which explores the evolutionary aspect of the mating game.  My quest was to find out just how much of human reaction to sexual advances is universal.  It’s a common collegiate experience to go to a bar with friends and spend half the night rejecting unwanted come-ons from gross dudes whose clothes smell as though they haven’t been washed in weeks or from frat boys dowsed in Crave body spray.  Many Bryn Mawr Women can put names to the two extremes from two neighboring schools.  I wanted to know why we’re so picky and if it’s always been that way.

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Willing Suspension of Disbelief: A Review of The Creative Mind by Margaret A. Boden

“Creativity is seemingly a mystery, for there is something paradoxical about it, something which makes it difficult to see how it is even possible. How it happens is indeed puzzling, but that it happens at all is deeply mysterious” (Boden, 1). Margaret Boden is a fan of hyperbole to the end of tantalizing her readers into probing deeper into her text. She spends much of the book wondering aloud if mysteries such as creativity are beyond the reaches of scientific exploration. If she truly believed that, I doubt she would have set out to write this book in the first place. Though her prose is circular in reasoning and highly repetitive, Boden offers interesting commentary on the inner workings of the creative mind, especially when viewed within the context of Neurobiology and Behavior topics of discussion.

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Neurons A-Fire: The Key to Human Sexual Attraction?


What makes one human being attractive to another human being: A deceptively simple question that was posed in various incarnations by that annoying Sarah Jessica Parker voice-over at the start of Sex and the City episodes. But can this unconventional neurobiology and behavior student even attempt to find the answer? (Hint: she can attempt it and perhaps make informed opinions but even bona fide scientists in the field can't even begin to make conclusive statements.) I stumbled across a BBC article in the science and nature section dealing with navigating online and print personal ads. Robin Dunbar, a researcher out of Liverpool University studied the British "Lonely Hearts" column in the 1990's, forming generalized conclusions about what traits men and women ranked highest in the opposite sex. Dunbar narrowed his findings down to "commitment, social skills, resources, attractiveness, and sexiness." (1)

Not surprisingly, the findings were mixed between male and female responses, some might even say divided into polar opposites. Women tended to rank "commitment" as the most desired trait they seek in men, while men ranked "attractiveness" as their top pick. I thought about these implications from an evolutionary standpoint. Back when we were covered with a thick layer of hair and our brains were half their modern homo sapien size, attractiveness was irrelevant. So was one of the other criteria, "sexiness." Really, all we were left with (and by we, I mean women) was a strong man who could provide us with the healthiest possible offspring. That would be "resources" according to the BBC study. But what to make of commitment? Dunbar's findings suggest the answer lies in something that ignited my interest, something called The Scheherazade Effect.

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Pleasure after Pain?

The notion of human perception is a hot-button issue for me in this course and in my waking life. I am not a philosopher, so I lack the existential vocabulary. I am not a biologist, so there goes any solid physical explanation. I am, however, an English major and I could talk your ear off in metaphor, waxing Romantic about how we elevated sentient beings are different from monkeys and rats and pigs but that’s not the point of this course. The point, at least for this paper, was to set out on my futile expedition to glean meaning from scientific articles using words I hardly know how to pronounce, even with my two requisite years of high school biology. Mission accomplished. I have ended up so far from where I started, I feel like a hobbit on the way to Mordor. So you want to talk perception? It ain’t me, babe. I found my way through a monsoon of articles and journals, asking originally asking “does the creative brain operate in a chemically altered state?”

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