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Love has been variously described as an emotion, a verb, a drug, or even a mood disorder. It motivates us to do things that go against logic, sense and self-preservation. We're bringing you some new ways to think about this most human of instincts.

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DatesAvailable to watch on-demand now
Talks structure30 minute lecture20 minute Q&A

3 talks in this Garden Series



Psychology & Behaviour
Human Biology & Medicine
How does love help us survive?

Love can make us act against logic and reason. It can make us irrational. It can make us forget about our own best interests, or even risk our own safety. Why have we developed such a strong instinct to love, when in so many ways it would be easier not to? Read more

Dr. Anna Machin

Oxford Brookes University

Dr Anna Machin started her career as a primatologist, working in zoos across the UK and Europe, but these days, you're far more likely to find her studying humans than chimpanzees.

Anna is an evolutionary anthropologist, who spends her time thinking about the science and anthropology of fatherhood, the human family in all its diversity, the human social network, romantic relationships and the influence of technological innovation on our behaviour and health.

Anna is fascinated by what makes humans behave the way they do, and uses a full range of disciplines and techniques – from genetic analysis, behavioural science and brain scanning to experimental psychology, sociology and hormonal analysis - to find answers to questions like:

  • How do dads bond with their babies?

  • What is a human family?

  • What motivates us to form long-lasting relationships?

  • Why do we need to be social?

  • How do developments in social media and AI influence our behaviour?

As you know, here at The Garden, those are just the kinds of questions we get obsessed about too, so we're delighted to welcome Anna into our Fellowship to help us dig into them.

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Science & Nature
Human Biology & Medicine
Could we create love in a lab?

When it comes to love, all the mystery, all the poetry and all the complex behaviours that lead to the most life-changing decisions we’ll ever make are driven by just a few molecules in our brains. What's the science of attraction, and can we fake it? Read more

Soon available to watch on-demand

Dr. Larry Young

Emory University

Dr. Larry Young grew up on a farm in a rural part of Georgia. Life in a rural town made it difficult for him to access educational materials, so he spent most of his time observing the natural world.

An undergraduate degree in biochemistry, a graduate degree in zoology and a PhD in neuroendocrinology later, and Larry is now one of the world's leading experts in social bonding, social attachments and oxytocin - the chemical commonly known as the love hormone. He is the Director of the Centers for Translational Social Neuroscience & for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University. He also heads up the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders at Yerkes National Primate Center, and is Professor of Psychiatry at Emory School of Medicine.

In his lab, Larry studies prairie voles - one of the very few monogamous animal species - and montane voles (much more promiscuous critters) to explore how love and compassion evolved.

Larry is the author of The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction, which explores the latest discoveries in how brain chemistry influences all aspects of our relationships with others.

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Literature & Language
Does love get better with age?

Romeo and Juliet are often held up as the romantic ideal, willing to risk it all for their one great love. But if Shakespeare really agreed that this is what true love looks like, why are so many of his favourite couples distinctly... middle-aged? Read more

Dr. Jessica Riddell

There aren't many people in the world who are as passionate about what we can learn from Shakespeare as Jessica Riddell. She bubbles over with excitement and enthusiasm for the 'dead white guys' she spends her time talking and teaching about as an academic and educator. Jessica uses Shakespeare and other early modern writers as guides to understand the messy, challenging problems we see every day in the world, and believes deeply that we can learn a lot about how to engage with these challenges through exploring these great literary and theatrical works.

As well as being a Professor of Early Modern Literature at Bishop's University, Canada, Jessica Riddell is a runner, a parent and a passionate educator. In 2015, she was awarded the 3M National Teaching Fellowship -- the highest recognition in Canada for educational leadership -- as well as the Jarislowsky Chairship for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence.

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