I thought of my neuroscience friends and colleagues when I heard the following dialogue from The Big Bang Theory. The conversation between Amy and Penny occurs after they have visited their boyfriends and observed another woman flirting with the men. Amy is a brilliant, though quirky scientist while Penny, possesses more street smarts than book smarts. They discuss Penny’s off-again, on-again relationship with her boyfriend, Leonard.
Penny: Maybe she was flirting with him, but who cares? I don’t even know where my relationship is with Leonard right now.
Amy: So says your pre-frontal cortex. But meanwhile, the limbic system of your brain is calculating that if another woman is attracted to Leonard, it must be because he is desirable.
Penny: Of course he’s desirable. He’s smart. He’s sweet. And in the bedroom – let me tell you – he really tries.
Amy: So it does bother you.
Penny: Fine! It bothers me a little. [Pause] No – you know this is stupid, it doesn’t bother me. [Pause] Okay, it bothers me, but only because she wouldn’t stop laughing. He’s not that funny.
Amy: And there you have it – pre-frontal cortex reasoning versus limbic lust. If this was a boxing match, they’d call it The Thrilla Adjacent to the Amig-dilla [laughs]. If you were a brain scientist, you’d be busting a gut right now!
Here’s to brain scientists everywhere.
- The Big Bang Theory, Season 6, Episode 3, “The Higgs Boson Observation” (televisionmania.wordpress.com)