img: Sergey Yeliseev

the 'valentine's effect' is when newspapers strain every sinew to force one or more scientific research articles to be about love. they're not. don't fall into their soppy trap.  

original articles: Bode & , Kavanagh, 2023 (Behavioral Sciences), Pierce et al., 2024 (Current Biology), reported in: The Independent by Vishwam Sankaran on 9th January 2024 image source

this story was in episode 36 #valentines #love #brian #vole #dopamine

the error bar says

every year in january & february, the UK newspapers give us pseudo scientific stories about love. it's the now-well-established 'Valentines effect', exclusively reported first in episode 3 of the error bar.

this year, the independent & the guardian have fallen into the sickly sweet Valentine's trap by providing two non-stories which only deserve a mention.

the independent started the farce, on the 9th january 2024, by claiming that the "Brain region behind romantic love 'activation' [had been] discovered". the first three paragraphs of the story focus on the brain, how it activates, & how the new research - the first of its kind no less - "uncovered the brain process that makes people put their loved ones on a pedestal in the first flush of romance."

the only problem with this story is that the article it was supposed to be based on did not contain any brain imaging or neuroscience. it was a regression analysis of 1556 questionnaire responses.

[audible sigh]


the next 'first of its kind' study on romantic love comes, just three days later, from The Guardian. this time, "study finds biological changes in brain that help us get over an ex". that's right, from the brain activations that causes the first flush of romance to the brain changes that help us recover when love is lost, the newspapers have it all covered.

the story, of course, is from a study of dopamine - the "pleasure hormone" in the nucleus accumbens of voles.


fucking voles.


see you again next year