Pain, pleasure and the science of love

Media:  Talk   

7 November 2017

Byens Lys

Siri Leknes

Siri Leknes is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo and the Intervention Centre, Oslo University Hospital. She is the PI of the Leknes Affective Brain Lab. Homepage


The Danish-Honduran LA REY delivers a fusion of heavy beats, experimental guitar and dynamic vocal samples. With references to the geopolitical conflicts in Central America, LA REY's music universe is a tribute to the resistance, as well as a personal tale and criticism of the blind community of ideology. Homepage

Why are close relationships so important? Does the pain of a broken heart mimic the pain of a broken arm? Why can pain sometimes feel good? Why do we love the pain of chilli peppers? What happens in the nervous system that makes us perceive something as good or bad, pleasant or painful?

Life offers many pleasures and pains - not least within the domain of love. Oxytocin is often called “the love hormone” and its concentration in human blood was recently found to be 100 times higher than previously thought. It is supposed to be responsible for emotional bounds between mother and child and for empathy in general. But can we rely on oxytocin to turn humankind from war-making to love-making?

Siri Leknes and her lab has been involved in so many studies on the science of love, pain and pleasure. Her research gives plausible explanations for why some people enjoy sadomasochistic sex or can even persevere through intense chili-eating marathons. Leknes will discuss how the brain's endorphin and oxytocin systems contribute to love and well-being in humans and other animals.

But how well can these things be measured? Leknes will discuss her collaboration with chemists to develop new and more accurate measuring methods for these small molecules in human beings. What's known - and what's not - about how the brain deals with pain, pleasure and other aspects of human love and the neurochemistry of love and well-being will be the topic of this fantastic evening.

Afterwards, cocktails to cool down your heated up hearts, while LA REY plays a fusion of heavy beats, experimental guitar and dynamic vocal samples with references to conflicts in Central America.

Entrance to the event is free. Event held in English. No registration is necessary. Doors open at 19:00.

The talk:

Image credit: A Times Square art installation, "We Were Stangers Once Too" by The Office for Creative Research, opened to the public on Feb. 7, 2017. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)