By Stacy Lloyd
A good kiss can make most people swoon. But there's more to a romantic kiss than just two people pressing together their lips.
Time.com reported that in Sheril Kirshenbaum's The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, Kirshenbaum cited the work of Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, who says kissing evolved to fulfill three essential needs.
These needs are sex drive, romantic love and attachment.
Kirshenbaum told CNN.com that human lips are the body's most exposed erogenous zone. Packed with sensitive nerve endings, they send a cascade of information to our brain which helps decide if we want to continue and what might happen next.
It may seem natural, said the New York Post, but kissing isn't easy. It involves help from six major muscles around the mouth to pucker up the upper lips, pull up the corners of the mouth, and pull down the lower lips.
HowStuffWorks.com added that the basic kiss relies heavily on one muscle -- the orbicularis oris -- which pucker up the lips during a kiss.
CNN.com continued, saying lip contact involves 5 of the 12 human cranial nerves, as people engage all of their senses to learn more about a partner. Electrical impulses bounce between the brain, lips, tongue and skin, which can lead to the feeling of being on a natural "high" because of a potent cocktail of chemical messengers or neurotransmitters involved.
Research shows kissing boosts levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine (which is involved in craving and desire) and serotonin (which elevates mood and can help spark obsessive thoughts about a partner) wrote Time.com. It also causes a spike in oxytocin, the so-called "love hormone."
Then there are physical changes said CNN.com. A kiss can cause blood vessels to dilate, pulses to quicken, cheeks to flush, and pupils to widen.
Kirshenbaum told Time.com, "What I found so fascinating is the chemicals in our bodies are responsible for the so-called symptoms we associate with falling in love. I don't think it takes the romance out of the equation, but it gives us a better scientific understanding of how our bodies are behaving."
While a guest on NPR's Talk of Nation, Kirshenbaum said scent plays a very big role in kissing. Women seem to be most attracted to men whose genetics for immunity are very distinct from their own.
So when women are kissing, it's a perfect opportunity to sense whether this might be a good match. The advantage of this is, if two people with more genetic diversity got together, their child might be stronger, healthier, and have a better immune system.
Women don't have the monopoly on using a kiss to determine a good partner. Men use kissing to weed out unsuitable mates or more often, to make themselves attractive to desirable mates, wrote Time.com.
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Reviewed May 11, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
By Stacy Lloyd