• Brain-Informed Flirting: Dr Jack’s Debut on MTV

    Dr Jack appears on MTV’s Plain Jane, 9pm, Wed 2nd Nov 2011

    On Tues 2nd November a beautifully shot episode of “Plain Jane” airs across Europe on MTV at 21.00 (GMT). British fashion journalist, Louise Roe, takes sweet but slightly awkward, inelegant young women and transforms them into confident, gorgeous divas.

    The aim: to hone their raw potential into a final product that enables them to win their secret crush.

    In a nutshell: Louise meets “Jane” who explains why she just can’t seem to make a good impression, they go shopping, “Jane” gets some expert date training, confronts phobias via adrenaline sport and then turns up to a lavish date in an exotic location to seduce her man – a man who has no idea who his date for the night will be. Sure, you’ve heard it all before, except that in this particular makeover show they’ve injected some brain science!

    Last summer, MTV invited me out to the beautiful alpine lake town of Montreaux (directly opposite the iconic mountains of Evian bottle fame) to provide a little brain-informed date training.

    Having a neuroscientist provide inspiration to a girl trying to get ahead in the love game may sound a bit odd, but at the end of the day it is the brain after all that produces the experience of love in the first place.

    The “Plain Jane” of this episode goes by the name of Sarah – a tomboy by day and a little bit too slutty by night. Her difficulty essentially boils down to the fact that she simply tries too hard and becomes clumsy when in the company of guys she really likes.

    Once her shopping trip to Geneva and morning at the local Swiss finishing school were successfully completed, I coached her with a few choice tips on how to get the best out of her brain when chatting with the hottest young gentlemen that the Swiss Alps had to offer.

    She was given the opportunity to practice putting this advice into action with a medley of men from the European brat pack in a beautiful hotel that looks out across the serene grace of Lake Geneva.

    Lake Geneva for a spot of brain-informed flirt training

    On a date, if one person perceives the other to be uncomfortable then that makes them feel uncomfortable too, setting up a downward spiral.

    However by thinking about the signals that your body language, tone of voice, enthusiasm with which you embrace certain topics of conversation sends out, an explosion of dopamine and serotonin can be triggered in the other person’s brain to make them feel comfortable and happy.

    I explained to Sarah the mechanisms at work in her brain that lead to her trying too hard to impress and the influence that this subsequently has on her date’s brain state. I spoke with her about how the adrenaline and cortisol release that can put a person on edge can also be harnessed to produce a spark of excitement. I explained ways in which she can wield the power of the oxytocin neurohormone that, when released in the brain, leads to feelings of trust, comfort and bonding; luring that man into her spell.

    How much of this ends up hitting the cutting room floor and how much into the final cut remains to be seen.  Either way I think that MTV deserves a little credit for being forward-thinking enough to employ a neuroscientist as one of their dating coaches in the first place! Personally I’m going to be watching on Wed at 9pm because I’m really keen to find out whether or not she got her guy. She was firing on all cylinders when I last saw her so I’m cautiously confident that it might just have gone her way. Plain Jane, 9pm, Wed 2nd Nov, MTV.

    In addition to these fortnightly brainposts you can also get my daily #braintweet – pearls of brain science that I distil into 140 characters – by following me on Twitter.

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