University of Tübingen: Love in culture and the brain

What do love and partnership mean today and how have they changed in the age of internet dating? The concept of romantic “love” is the subject of the CIN Dialogues, to which the Werner Reichardt Center for Integrative Neurosciences and the College of Fellows invite. The sociologist Eva Illouz from the University of Jerusalem and the neuroscientist Larry Young from Emory University in Atlanta, USA discuss the concept of romantic “love” from their respective perspectives:

The concept of “love” and romantic relationships are not only the subject of psychological and sociological, but also neuroscientific research. The neurosciences research the neurobiological and genetic basis of love and the mechanisms on which our social behavior is based. Neuroscientists even claim that the neurological basis of love is one of the phenomena that is best understood. So from both perspectives, sociology and neuroscience, we can expect up-to-date answers to the question of what a reasonably complex description of the concept of love can look like.

So how has the concept of love changed – especially with dating platforms as the central place for initiating romantic contacts? Is there a cultural influence on love itself, or just the way we seek and show it? And can neuroscientists and sociologists learn from each other what to look for when exploring what love means today? These are some of the questions that Eva Illouz and Larry Young will discuss. The conversation will be moderated by science journalist Alison Abbott (Nature).

In the run-up to the CIN Dialogue, the ceremonial opening of the Cognitive Science Center (CSC) Tübingen will take place at 4 p.m. with the lecture “Natural concepts in humans and in machines: A design perspective” by the renowned cognitive scientist Professor Peter Gärdenfors (Lund University).

Eva Illouz is Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Directrice d’études at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. Her research interests are the sociology of culture, gender, capitalism, and the history and sociology of emotions. Her work explores, among other things, how public culture and capitalism shape emotional life, the commercialization of romanticism, and the importance of freedom, choice, and individualism in the modern world. Die Zeit chose her as one of the 12 intellectuals who will shape the thinking of the future.

Larry Young is director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) and the Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University. Young’s research addresses the genetic, cellular, and neurobiological mechanisms that underlie relationships and regulate social behavior. He has identified the central role of the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin in the neuronal processing of social signals and explores connections to the basis of addiction. His lab uses this understanding to find drugs to treat psychiatric disorders.

Alison Abbott holds a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Leeds. She was Editor of Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, and Chair of the FENS Communications Committee from 2014 to 2018. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Euroscience Science Writers Award (2009), the Medical Journalists Association Award (2015) and the ABSW Science Journalist of the Year Award (2018).