Since the time of Shakespearean tragedies to our current day, the mystery of love has fascinated us. Contrary to popular belief, the brain is actually the origin of love, not the heart. Our initial feelings of attraction are caused by three neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, dopamine, and phenylethylamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine cause feelings of nervousness and excitability that are often rampant in the early stage of a relationship. Phenylethylamine acts as a booster to those feelings caused by the other two neurotransmitters. Lust sometimes occurs simultaneously with attraction but the chemicals that produce it differ. Estrogen and testosterone both play a part lust and sexual desires. Testosterone and estrogen both naturally occur in men and women, but the concentrations of those chemicals vary in both sexes. Estrogen does have some small effects on women around the time of ovulation, but testosterone is the main neurotransmitter responsible for an increased libido. As a relationship progresses, attachment grows and new neurotransmitters are introduced. Oxytocin and vasopressin become more prevalent in the brain as love and devotion develops in a relationship. These neurotransmitters cause feelings of bonding with another person and they mellow the previous high-strung emotions. Unlike the early stages of a relationship, the stage of attachment truthfully never peaks in a long-term relationship. There is also no age qualification to develop this type of connection with a person. The attachment we develop with our family members is the same type of attachment we develop with spouses later on in life, excluding the feelings of lust and attraction.
An AP prompt in which this topic may be used in one that discusses the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Or, a prompt could discuss age limits and what constitutes the qualifications of being an adult since love is often seen as an “adult” affair. It may be a bit of a stretch, but this information could be very useful in AP prompts.