Neuroscientists are probing why some married couples can maintain the spark for years.
Until recently, most neuroscientists considered love an ill-defined topic best avoided. But a growing body of work showed that our attachments have a neurological underpinning. In 1996, a privately funded conference in Stockholm took the title "Is there a neurobiology of love?" Among the organizers was Sue Carter, an expert on the prairie-vole brain.
Days after Mrs. Tucker's brain scan, Dr. Brown, the neuroscientist, sat in her book-lined office looking at the results. "Wow, just wow," she recalls thinking. Mrs. Tucker's brain reacted to her husband's photo with a frenzy of activity in the ventral tegmental area. "I was shocked," Dr. Brown says.
The brain scan confirmed what Mrs. Tucker said all along. But when she learned the result, she too was a bit surprised. "It's not something I expected after 11 years," she says. "But having it, it's like a gift."