Oak Harbor Library Blog

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Secret of Love: It's All In Your Head

I overheard a friend commenting to my son that the Valentines cards exchanged by his dad and me (after more than twenty years of marriage) were extremely rare, and that he should take note! It got me thinking about love and what makes it stick. With February in fast retreat, we must take time to explore love's secret; it is not in the heart after all.
Researchers studying the biology of romantic love have boiled it down to chemistry in the brain. They studied the newly in love, the long in love, and the recently parted. Brain scans reveal which areas of the brain are most associated with feelings of love:

  • Nucleus accumbens - active in the broken-hearted, those in love who have been recently dumped
  • Ventral pallidum - associated with attachment, active in those who are madly in love after twenty years or more
  • Ventral tegmental area (VTA) - mad passion, associated with new love (this is a key reward area)
  • Raphne nucleus - this area gives a sense of calm, active in longtime lovers
These four tiny areas of the brain form a circuit of love. The hot spot is the VTA: this lights up for people who are newly in love, releasing dopamine and sending it to different brain regions. Love works in the brain like a drug addiction: wonderful when it's going well, horrible when it's going poorly. According to neuroscientists, those who are newly separated often experience the same kind of craving.
For those lucky people who are still madly in love after many years the VTA continues to light up, along with the ventral pallidum which releases hormones that decrease stress, and the raphe nucleus which pumps out serotonin, giving a sense of calm.
The bonding research is part of a larger effort aimed at understanding and eventually treating social interaction conditions such as autism. Meanwhile, it's interesting to think of all that activity taking place in our brains. For more information check out the article by Larry Young in the journal Nature for January 8 2009, "Being Human: Love: Neuroscience reveals all." Mary C

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lead in children's books?

Yes, we know we're not supposed to eat them, but is it not a rule of Ready Readers that all toddlers must devour at least one board book daily? Discussion of possible lead paint used in the covers of children's books has been in the news recently. Last week the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to issue "a one year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers of regulated products, including products intended for children 12 years old and younger..." The decision by the Commission gives the staff more time to finalize four proposed rules which could relieve certain materials and products from lead testing and to issue more guidance on when testing is required and how it is to be conducted. The stay will remain in effect until February 10, 2010, at which time a Commission vote will be taken to terminate the stay. The stay does not apply to requirements for third-party testing and certification of certain children’s products subject to the ban on lead in paint and other surface coatings effective for products made after December 21, 2008. See the full ruling at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09115.html
Our goal is that young children should have fun with books, and that first books truly are like toys. Perhaps they should not, however, be chewed. Read with your toddler and enjoy books safely!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kind of Blue

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue, Miles Davis' melodic masterpiece that changed the face of music in American. For Davis and saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, Kind of Blue was just another day at work. The sessions, recorded at two historic dates in 1959, are contained on just three reels. One or two takes and they had it down.
Check out the library's impressive collection of Miles Davis CDs. Or read about his impact on jazz in Ashley Kahn's excellent biography by the same title.
If you like jazz and want to listen to some great selections, you don't have to go any farther than your computer. With streaming music you can listen to tracks online, create play lists of your favorites and play themed play lists for guided exploration of the three online music libraries: Classical, African American Song and World Music. Or you can visit the library's Download Digital Media site and browse music of all types, from jazz and blues to soundtracks. From there you can download CDs of your choice, simply by adding them to your cart and proceeding to checkout, all with your Sno-Isle Library card. Enjoy!