We're excited to bring together world leading experts to share their latest biological and psychological insights about the different ways humans and animals interact with each other through the prism of love
At neuroscience conventions women are often under-represented, and yet there are extraordinary women researchers all over the world

Love and its emotional implication

3 May 2022

Watch the full recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbqngT0nHvE

Date: Sunday 15 May 2022  Location: Sainsbury Welcome Centre, University College London

Four* world-leading scientists will talk about love and its neural basis in the brain. SWC is hosting the 7th Emotions Brain Forum, an itinerant series of conferences featuring women speakers only and dedicated to Nobel Laureate Rita Levi Montalcini.

How is love born in the brain? And how does it evolve, from infancy, to the development of social relationships in adolescence, to desire, romance, and passion that can turn into possession and jealousy? Has Covid-19 affected our approach to love? 

World-renowned scientists Sarah Jayne Blakemore*, Catherine Dulac, Helen Fisher and Bianca Jones Marlin will discuss these challenging questions in a conference open to the public and free of charge, hosted by the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre (University College London) and organized by BrainCircleItalia, a non-profit association founded 15 years ago under the aegis of Nobel Laureate Rita Levi Montalcini with a view to promoting the knowledge about neuroscience.

“Understanding how the brain generates our social and emotional bonds is a great mystery” said Professor Tom Mrsic-Flogel, Director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, who will be hosting the Emotions Brain Forum in London. “We're excited to bring together world leading experts to share their latest biological and psychological insights about the different ways humans and animals interact with each other through the prism of love”.

Sarah Jayne Blakemore* will explain how the social brain develops in adolescence and influences the social behaviour of young people. Prof. Blakemore is the Chair of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Cambridge University. She has published over 200 scientific papers is author of the books: “Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain” and “The Learning Brain”. She been awarded multiple national and international prizes for her research and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, the British Academy and the American Association of Psychological Science. 

Catherine Dulac is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. Dr. Dulac’s work has made essential contributions to the identification of neural circuits underlying instinctive social behaviors in mice. In her lecture she will describe her recent work uncovering specific neuronal populations in the brain that participate in the positive and negative regulation of parental care in both males and females. Dr. Dulac is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Helen Fisher, the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University and The Center for Evolutionary Studies, Rutgers University, was chosen in 2015 by Business Insider as one of “The Fifteen Most Amazing Women in Science”. She is the author of six books on love, published in 25 countries, including the best-seller “Anatomy of Love”. She will present her fMRI brain scanning data on romantic love, rejection in love, love addiction, and the brain systems associated of long term partnership happiness. She will discuss mate choice, using data from the Fisher Temperament Inventory, a biologically-based questionnaire she created, which has been taken by over 15 million people in 40 countries and she will conclude with her latest research on the future of courtship, based on a representative sample of 5,000+ singles, which clearly shows that the pandemic has produced an historic change in dating patterns.

Bianca Jones Marlin PhD is a neuroscientist and Herbert and Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Cell Research at the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University in New York City. Her research investigates how organisms unlock innate behaviours at appropriate times, and how learned information is passed to subsequent generations via transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. She is an expert on the neural and hormonal underpinnings of parental behaviour, and will discuss the role of oxytocin in “maternal instinct”. Dr. Marlin’s work has been recognized with several awards and honors, including: Popular Science Magazine’s Brilliant 10, the STAT Wunderkind Award, and the Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience. Her research and perspectives have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Geographic, among others.

The conference is part of an itinerant series of events dedicated to discussing Emotions (www.emotionsbrainforum.org), that in two years will be touring nine European cities featuring only women speakers. "At neuroscience conventions women are often under-represented, and yet there are extraordinary women researchers all over the world” says Viviana Kasam, President of BrainCircle Italia, who created the project in collaboration with universities and research centers all over Europe. “So it seemed not only appropriate but also necessary to create an international event to draw attention to women scientists in this field." She chose the theme of EMOTIONS "to be slightly provocative – to challenge the view that sets male rationality against female emotivity. Fortunately, today the crucial role of emotional intelligence in our lives is increasingly acknowledged – not countering logic, but at its side”.

The conference will be in person, and also live streamed on the website: www.emotionsbrainforum.org.

To register: visit Eventbrite


Emotions international programme

  • October 24 2021: Jerusalem, Israel. Understanding emotions – the brain and behavioral activities during fear, satisfaction, empathy, and stress.
  • October 31 2021: Genoa, Italy. Brain maps of emotions – the manifestation of love in the brain and how this most beautiful of emotion can degenerate, causing suffering and obsession. This meeting will be part of the Science Festival at the Palazzo Ducale.
  • November 18 2021: Rome, Italy. Beauty and the brain – how the brain perceives and responds to beauty.
  • December 3 2021: Lugano, Swiss. Does gender affect emotions? – the science behind this controversial subject.
  • January 25 2022: Milan, Italy. Emotions in artificial worlds – a contemporary topic that provokes both fear and fascination.
  • May 15 2022: London, UK. Love and its emotional implications – how this emotion develops and changes through life.
  • May 21 2002: Lisbon, Portugal: Evolving emotions: getting a field for the world - an experience through convergent and divergent perspectives from neuroscience, philosophy and the arts, to celebrate the emotions that shape our lives.
  • November 25, 2022: Geneva, Switzerland. Emotions: cognition and behavior – processing emotions in response to experience

(A complete list of speakers is given at the end of this press release. For further information on the individual speakers, please go to the website: www.emotionsbrainforum.org)

The speakers at EMOTIONS:

  • Pamela Agazzi, Neurocenter of Southern Switzerland (Lugano), Switzerland
  • Merav Ahissar, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem
  • Cristina Alberini, New York University, NY, USA
  • Shir Atzil, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Michela Balconi, Cattolica University (Milan and Brescia), Italy
  • Maya Bar Hillel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Isael
  • Inbal Ben Ami, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • Sarah Jayne Blakemore, University of Cambridge and University College London, UK
  • Lina Bolzoni, Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), Italy
  • Lisa Bortolotti, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Daniela Cerqui, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Géraldine Coppin, UniDistance Suisse and University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Valeria Gazzola, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, NL
  • Beatrice de Gelder, Maastricht University, Netherlands
  • Catherine Dulac, Harvard University, USA
  • Ruth Feldman, Interdisciplinary Center (Herzliya), Israel, and Yale University, USA
  • Helen Fisher, Indiana University and Rutgers University
  • Talma Hendler, Tel Aviv University, USA
  • Eva Jablonka, Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel-Aviv, Israel, and London School of Economics, London University, UK
  • Donatella Marazziti, Universitò di Pisa, Università Unnicamillus Roma e BFR, Lucca, Italy
  • Bianca Jones Marlin, Columbia University and Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, USA
  • Mouna Maroun, Haifa University, Israel
  • Angela Matthes, founder of "be curious"
  • Barbara Mazzolai, Italian Technology Institute (Pisa), Italy
  • Marta Moita, Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal
  • Hannah Monyer, EBRI (Rome), Italy, and University Hospital (Heidelberg), Germany
  • Suzanne Oosterwijk, University of Amsterdam, NL
  • Virginia Penhune, Concordia University e BRAMS International Laboratory (Montreal), Canada
  • Daniela Perani, San Raffaele Scientific Institute (Milan), Italy
  • Julie Péron, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Elizabeth Phelps, Harvard University, US
  • Maria Victoria Sanchez Vives, IDIBAPS (Barcelona), Spain
  • Antonella Santuccione Chadha, Womens’ Brain Project (Lugano), Italy
  • Sophie Schwartz, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Alessandra Sciutti, Italian Technology Institute (Genoa), Italy
  • Giorgia Silani, University of Vienna, Austria
  • Elisabetta Sirgiovanni, Università Sapienza, Roma, Italy
  • Hermona Soreq, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Maya Tamir, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Sara Tonelli, Bruno Kessler Foundation (Trento), Italy
  • Carien Van Reekum, University of Reading and PCLS Diversity and Inclusion Committee, UK
  • Agnieszka Wykowska, Italian Technology Institute (Genoa), Italy

The artists at EMOTIONS:

  • Vince Abbracciante, bandoneon, Italy
  • Clio Bougard, visual artist, Portugal
  • Michela Calvano, singer, Italy
  • Agnese Coco, harp, Italy
  • Sebastiano Cognolato, composer, Italy
  • Sofia Dias and Vitor Roriz, dancers, Portugal
  • Luca Fraula, pianist, Italy
  • Eri Hamkawa, pianist, Japan
  • Daniel Hoffman, violin, Israel
  • Roberto Izzo, pianist and composer, Italy
  • Tupac Martir, multimedia artist, Portugal
  • Lula Pena, fado singer and composer, Portugal


*Unfortunately, Sarah Jayne Blakemore was unable to attend for personal reasons.

Logos. Project created and developed by Brain Circle Italia in partnership with BrainCircle, EBRI, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, ELSC, Women's Brain Project in collaboration with Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, MEET, Champalimaud Foundation, Universite de Geneve, Festival della Scienza, with the generous contribution of The Sagol Network, Lilah Foundation, Matanel and the Asper Foundation