Quantify My Love: Ranking the Neurochemistry of Feelings

A filmmaker teams up with a lab at Stanford University to scan subjects' brain activity as they feel love.

The Love Competition is an unusual hybrid of documentary film and scientific study. Brent Hoff, a filmmaker and editor of the video magazine Wholphin, teamed up with Stanford University's Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging to investigate the neurochemical nature of love, with a competitive twist. Human subjects (the contestants) focus on their deepest feelings of love while researchers measure their brain activity via fMRI scanner. Whoever has the highest levels of the neurotransmitters associated with romantic love, wins.

The beauty of the film, and the study, lies in how sincerely the research subjects tackle the task at hand. They share the stories of their greatest loves in amazingly heartfelt on-camera interviews. From a 10-year-old kid to a couple that has been happily married for over 50 years, everyone describes love (or lack of it) differently. For some, their time in the fMRI scanner has a transformative effect. In the end, of course, it isn't really about winning anyway. 


Stills from the film

For more information about Wholphin, see http://www.wholphin.net, and visit the McSweeney's store to subscribe to the DVD magazine.

Via Jason Sondhi

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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