The Chemistry of Kissing
Science & Tech / /
A kiss is a symbol of the universal language that is timeless and goes over all boundaries. Anthropologists have estimated that more than 90% of cultures practice kissing. People have an instinctive urge for kissing, but the way they do that varies depending on the culture or personal experience.
A passionate French kiss works in our brain like a drug, stimulating the natural chemicals in the body, and can cause a true ecstasy driven by a cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters. During kissing our body becomes extremely active, sending billions of information from the brain to the tongue muscles, the lips and the skin. These impulses produce a series of neurotransmitters that directly affect how we feel.
When the kiss happens, the body and brain experience a series of unique chemical reactions. A passionate kiss firstly dilates the blood vessels so the brain receives more oxygen than usual, cheeks are blushing, and the pulse is quicker. Breathing becomes irregular and deep. The eye pupil is spreading, and five of the twelve brain nerves are immediately activated - thanks to them, the senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch are amplified.
Long-lasting kiss also allows us to 'taste' someone else's taste that can reveal clues about his or her health. Plus our lips are connected with a large section of the brain.
What happens in the brain during a kiss?
"When you love a big part of the brain becomes active," said Helen Fisher, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. She explains that these chemical cocktails affect the level of attractiveness and the choice of partner - we are attracted to people who have certain biological profile. “Kissing is a mechanism for mate choice and mate assessment,” she adds.
When we love, all five major senses simultaneously transmit messages. Billions of nerve connections actively send signals throughout the body, but they all eventually end up in postcentral gyrus, an area of the brain that processes the sense of touch, temperature, and pain.
Our brain responds to these signals by producing chemicals that help us make decision about the next move. A good kiss can be like a drug, and can cause rapid flow of hormones and neurotransmitters, stimulating pleasure centers.
Kiss releases large amounts of dopamine, and it is this chemical substance which is responsible for desire, and scientifically is associated with falling in love. Dopamine works in our brain like a drug - which is why we become addicted to the persons we love. The brain is experiencing dopamine as a reward, and since kissing is constantly rewarding the brain, the desire for that action is constantly increasing.
Kissing also releases large amounts of oxytocin, the so-called hormone of love. Oxytocin is responsible for maintaining special relations between the two people. Because of this hormon kissing can keep love strong even after several years of relationship. In other words, kissing affects the hormones and neurotransmitters that are beyond our conscious control, and these signals play a major role in feelings for partner.
Therefore, when you find the right person, there is only one way to keep the connection active – keep on kissing.