Radiolab Blogland recently introduced a short documentary called The Love Competition by Brent Hoff. The film features seven strangers who each spend five minutes in an fMRI machine with a single, abstract task at hand: to “love someone as hard as they can.” The person who exhibits the highest level of activity in the regions of the brain associated with love wins the competition.
An fMRI creates detailed images of our mental activity. It does so by measuring blood flow and oxygenation in response to neural activity in the brain, according to The University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Blood cells are roughly 10-06 meters long. The brain is estimated to have roughly 100 billion (10+11) cells as well as one billion (10+09) neurons that make over a trillion (10+12) connections at any given time. How those connections amount to love may not be fully understood, but for now, fMRI images are rendering colorful and detailed manifestations of the emotion.