[FOUNTAIN]Silverbacks and Marathoners

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[FOUNTAIN]Silverbacks and Marathoners

A couple were on their honeymoon trip. They were walking on an empty beach, the wind was refreshing and the waves were a little high.

The new bridegroom, who was walking silently, suddenly shouted at the sea. "Sing, wind! Dance, waves!"

A moment later, the new bride, ready to believe anyting her lover said, observed: "It's marvelous; the wind does sing and waves do dance."

That honeymoon phenomenon makes us smile. But shattering our fantasy, many scientists say love, however romantic, is nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain.

Last year, a scientist at Cornell University reported that neurotransmitters or hormones are at work in four stages of love.

When a couple first feels an attraction, dopamine is produced in their brains, making them happy just to see each other. When they feel uncontrollable desire, it is the force of phenylethylamine in operation. While making love, oxytocine is released. In the fourth stage, endorphin is secreted to help them regain their calm.

I suppose at least three of the four chemicals were at work when the bride agreed with her husband.

Male gorillas usually have black fur, but when they become a leader of a group, a batch of silver hair, called "silverback," grows on their back. A neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is related to self-confidence, triumphant feelings and depression, is thought to affect the change in the color.

Corresponding changes in concentration and vigor can be seen in National Assembly candidates during their election campaigns. Campaign staffers find it difficult to just follow them around.

Many election winners later recall that they did not feel tired at all during their campaigns despite their grueling schedules, sometimes stretching from 5 a.m. until 2 o'clock the following morning.

In the same context, politicians who were named to core positions of parties or administrations, as the saying "position makes people" goes, are transformed into total enthusiasts who seem to be different people. Silver hair may not grow on their backs, but there seem to be some hormones in action.

If you are absorbed in a marathon, you can experience a "runner's high." The uplifted mood comes on after about 30 minutes of running, thanks to a chemical called beta endorphin.

If you have been avoiding any form of exercises, why not start with simple jogging before autumn is over? The third JoongAng Ilbo Seoul International Half Marathon on Sunday was run by over 26,500 marathoners.

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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