Just Another Pretty Face? Facial Attractiveness

Beautiful clean cosmetics woman close up portrait

What areas of the brain are signaling, “He/she is good-looking!!” ?

One area is the left VTA.

When you’re out on that first date, is the left VTA active in your date when they look at you?

As humans, we have a standard of attractiveness in faces and bodies.  There is a huge amount of research on this topic.  Symmetry seems to be important to everyone, regardless of culture, for example.  Some actors are attractive to a wide audience.  It seems there are special brain regions that help us to make those judgments.  We “like” the faces of attractive people.  We “want” the person we are in love with.   Psychologists and neuroscientists have categorized reward and motivated behavior into “wanting” versus “liking.”  You work for things you “want.”  You notice thing you “like.”

But why would this primitive part of the brain, the VTA, respond to “liking?”  Perhaps when you see an attractive face, it tempts you to draw near and begin the courting process.  Then with time (or on some occasions nearly instantly) this “liking” turns to “wanting”—and intense romantic love.