While many of us like to think of love and mating as something for poets to romanticize about and philosophers to define, there is an ever-growing field of behavioral neuroscientists who are interested in understanding how the brain and chemicals in the brain regulate the feelings we experience. This novel approach to understanding love adds an important layer of complexity for students in Juan Dominguez’s Signature Course, “Love, Mating and the Brain.” Students gain insight into how brain chemicals and hormones interact to regulate feelings of love in all its forms—the love we feel for a partner, parent, sibling, or for a good friend.
Dominguez’s interest in teaching the course stems from his own experience as an undergraduate when he took a similar course that ignited his interest in this field of research, setting him on the path to become an expert in hormones, the brain, and behavior. One class exercise designed to demonstrate how the brain regulates love involves a visit to the Blanton Museum of Art.
Prior to the class’s visit to the museum, students learn about mechanisms responsible for integrating visual and other sensory information and how different sensations can elicit a variety of emotions. At the museum, students are asked to find a piece of art that provokes an emotional response. They then use the information learned in class on how visual information leads to emotions to help them understand their own emotional response to the artwork they chose.