Recently, I found myself in the office of the neuroscientist Robert Desimone, the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, discussing what it takes to know that two people are going to fall in love. We sat next to a large glass cabinet containing the historical artifacts and curiosities of brain science: a wooden box bristling with electrodes and wires used for inducing electrical currents and shocks to the brain; a brain-wave "synchronizer" with a flashing vacuum tube; and a frightening metal spike, dating back to the 1940s, to be hammered into the brain to perform lobotomies. I asked Desimone if he thought that brain scientists of the future might be able to predict whether two people would someday fall in love, given a full readout of their neurons. Desimone replied with a boyish grin: "I'm a reductionist. So yes," he told me. He allowed that, at the moment, our models are only probabilistic. They would say, "There's a 70 percent probability you'll fall in love with Mary, and a 40 percent chance you'll fall in love with Alice." But, according to Desimone, the predictive probabilities in the future will inch up toward 100 percent. I'm a… Read full this story
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