What about gender and sexual orientation? The quick answer - gender and sexual orientation don't matter, at least not very much. We're all the same in primitive, drive areas of our brains when it comes to romance and attachment.
Two great researchers, Romaya and Zeki, have done a study to compare brain responses to a romantic partner depending on gender and sexual orientation. Their conclusion is that the basic activations are the same whether you are male or female, prefer same-sex or opposite-sex partners. Romantic love is so basic, it doesn't matter what your own gender is, or what gender you prefer. The primitive midbrain ventral tegmental area will still drive you toward the one you love.
In our studies, we found that some brain regions whose job is to take care of higher thinking processes were differently activated in men and women when they looked at their sweetheart. Men activated more visual areas. Other studies suggest that men depend more than women on visual images. Women activated more cognitive and memory areas. Women might be evaluating questions like-- "Is he going to remember our anniversary?" But, we want to emphasize that it was not ALL men, or ALL women who showed this effect. Some women activated visual areas and some men activated the more cognitive areas.NEXT