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SciCafe: Science of Love

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Brain in a heart

What is love? Turns out, it’s all in your head. Join neuroscientist Bianca Jones Marlin as she discusses her research on the strong emotional bonds that can exist between humans, like those between parents and children. Marlin’s work investigates the use of neurochemicals like oxytocin (the “love drug”) as a potential treatment to strengthen fragile and broken relationships.

This SciCafe occurred in the past. Hear the full talk in this episode of the Science@AMNH podcast, or watch a video version below:

Meet the Speaker

Bianca Jones Marlin's headshot

Bianca Jones Marlin is a neuroscientist and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University. She holds a PhD in neuroscience from New York University, and dual bachelor degrees from St. John’s University, in biology and adolescent education. 

As a graduate student, with Robert Froemke, Marlin examined how the brain adapts to care for a newborn and how a baby’s cry can control adult behavior. Her research focused on the vital bond between parent and child, and studied the use of neurochemicals, such as the “love drug” oxytocin, as a treatment to strengthen fragile and broken parent-child relationships. 

Marlin is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Richard Axel, M.D., where she investigates transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, or how traumatic experiences in parents affect the brain structure of their offspring.

Her research has been featured in Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Scientific America and Discover Magazine’s “100 Top Stories of 2015.” She is the recipient of the 2016 Society for Neuroscience Donald B. Lindsley Award, which recognizes the most outstanding PhD thesis in the general area of behavioral neuroscience and was named a STAT Wunderkind in 2017.  She is currently a Junior Fellow in the prestigious Simons Society of Fellows.

A native New Yorker, Marlin lives in Manhattan with her scientist husband, Joseph, their daughter, Sage, and their cat Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who is named after the famed neuroanatomist.

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The Museum gratefully acknowledges The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, Inc. for its support to establish the Sackler Brain Bench, part of the Museum's Sackler Eudcational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins, in the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, offering ongoing programs and resources for adults, teachers, and students to illuminate the extraordinary workings of the human brain.