Smarts
Charlotte Hannah
June 21, 2013

An Electric Shock to the Brain Will Help You Find People More Attractive


Are you finding yourself less attracted to your boyfriend these days?

Then you’ll be pleased to know there’s an easy way to remedy that without all the time and effort involved with reigniting the passion the old fashioned way. All you’ve got to do is let some doctors put some electrodes on your noggin and give you a mild electric shock for 15 minutes.

You should be aware, though, that the shock will actually make you find everyone’s face more attractive – which, hey, might not be such a bad thing.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology discovered this after having folks sit in an MRI machine and rank the attractiveness of a series of faces. Then, the participants had electrodes stuck on their heads and underwent some transcranial direct-current stimulation, which is basically a fancy way of saying they were given a mild electric shock via some electrodes and a nine-volt battery. A control group, who had electrodes placed on their heads but didn’t receive the shock, was also used.

After 15 minutes of gentle brain shockage, the participants hopped back in the MRI machine and rated the attractiveness of the faces again. This time, those who received the shock rated the faces as being more attractive than they did before.

Why? The mild shock resulted in an increase in dopamine, a chemical in the brain that makes people see others as more attractive (among many, many other things).

This sounds like just a neat experiment or perhaps part of a treatment for certain sexual dysfunctions, but it’s actually way cooler than that. Dopamine deficiency is present in diseases like Parkinson’s, depression and schizophrenia, so a gentle and safe way to increase dopamine production without drugs or invasive surgery is a big deal for people who suffer from them.

More research into the usefulness of transcranial direct-current stimulation for those diseases will be needed, though, since its effects generally only last about twice as long as the patient received the shock for.

In the meantime, if you want to pump up your dopamine levels, you’ll have to fall in love, drink a beer or get a lot of Facebook notifications.