A 100% Absolutely and Completely Realisitic Neuroscience Love Scene (Love At First Sight Blogfest)

Brain scientists wonder about many things.  Besides obvious mysteries like  whether or not we'll ever solve the problem of consciousness, there's also the perennial question of why we're so underrepresented in the romance genre.

Think about it.  When was the last time you went through a checkout aisle and saw a  Nora Roberts with a dreamy fMRI technician on the cover?  The sad truth is, our research generally has more sex appeal than we do.

So when I heard about the Love at First Sight Blogfest, I knew it was my responsibility to up the percentage of steamy brain scientist love stories available.  So without further ado, I present:

A 100% Absolutely and Completely Realisitic Neuroscience Love Scene

He rushed in five minutes before scantime, hauling a laptop bag over one shoulder and flashing an apologetic grin.

“Sorry I’m late. I went to the wrong scanner.”

She forced a polite smile but didn't try too hard to hide her annoyance. “The patient’s name is Alicia. I've explained the procedure, and she’s in the bathroom changing. Can you help me set up?”

“Sure.” He strode past her only to stop outside the control room door. “I don't think I know the combination.”

“Four eight three.” The panel flashed green, and the lock clicked.

“Four eight three,” he muttered as he followed her in.

“You’ve scanned before?”

“Yes, but we used a GE system at Stanford, not the Siemens.” He reached into his pockets, fishing out cell phone, keys, and wallet and dumping them onto the back table. She glanced at his shirt pocket and scanned his waist for a belt before demetaling herself as well. Both of them paused at next doorway, automatically patting their hip and back pockets before entering the air conditioned scanner room.

“And this is the magnet,” she said over the soft thrum of the helium pump. The scanner took up a good portion of the room, a giant horizontal cylinder with a man-sized bore.

She pointed at the bottom cabinet as she walked by. “The linens are in
there.” He opened it, bending his lanky frame in half to peer inside. By the time she finished plugging in the headcoil, he had covered the scanner bed with new sheets, readied a pillow, and placed a packet of earplugs for the patient on top. She felt slightly guilty about her rudeness earlier. The imaging center was notoriously hard to navigate.

A knock sounded from the control room. “That's probably the patient.”

He stayed out of the way as she performed the final safety checks, gave instructions to Alicia and rolled her into the scanner. “Squeeze the emergency ball if you need us,” she told her as they returned to the control room.

She settled in front of the scanner controls and dove straight into the preliminary scans. A low mechanical buzz came through the intercom, and a grainy brain image loaded onto the screen. Halfway through setting up the next scan, she paused.

“Sorry I'm not explaining more, but we're running late and this is a long paradigm. I'll try to walk you through next time.”

“No problem. I'll just look over your shoulder.”

“Thanks.” For a few minutes, there was no sound except for keyboard, mouse, and the low pitched scanner noise.

“How many subjects have you run on this paradigm?” he asked when her typing slowed.

“Seven.” She scanned the screen, double checking the parameters. “The pilots were promising, but now the group analysis doesn't show any activation. I'll try a few more before I give up.”

“Well, we'll keep our fingers crossed then.”

The scanner made a high pitched, repetitive trill as it began its functional runs. She monitored the display for a few more moments before speaking again. “To be honest, I think I'm shooting myself in the foot by using SPM's volume based normalization. The VWFA is variable enough as it is. I really should look at it again with--”

“Surface based normalization.”

She cocked her head and glanced in his direction. He looked down at his hands. When he spoke again, his voice was soft. “I feel the same. Exactly the same, in fact, about volume based normalization. It doesn't make sense why we still stick with it--”

“When surface based normalization is so obviously superior.” Impulsively, she swiveled her chair to face him. Their eyes met.

In the next room, the scanner continued to sing.

* * * * *

Whew (*fanning self*).  That's about all I can handle for now.  And now you have some insight into the love lives of neuroscientists.

Thanks to Simon Larter for alerting me to the blogfest, Courtney Reese for hosting,  Lady Glamis, whose recent bit of flash fiction inspired the ending line, and Good Omens for inspiring the second to last paragraph.

Be sure to check out the other entries in the Blogfest for some less nerdy fun.


  1. this made me laugh! the writing is fine...but i just laughed at the nature of these two! i'm still laughing....are you sure this is 100% real? i guess stereotypes are based on reality, then. :)

    The Character Therapist

  2. Jeannie-

    Welllll, perhaps I may have stretched the truth a lllittle bit....



  3. And if "surface-based normalization" isn't one of the all-time best euphemisms for sex I've ever heard, well, I don't know what is.

    Normalize me, baby, right now, on this surface! NORMALIZE ME!

  4. This is great! I love the characters and the tension :)

  5. Delightful! Who says neuroscientists can't have romance?

  6. So funny. Why not neuroscientists? Why should morgue doctors get all of the scenes? lol

  7. lol! I love it. Thanks for posting in the Love at First Sight Blogfest.

  8. awesome. just awesome. my favorite line: "The scanner took up a good portion of the room, a giant horizontal cylinder with a man-sized bore."

  9. Bahahahaaaa! Um... hahahaaa!


    Er... Hahahaaahaaahaaaahaa!

    *wipes tears of laughter away*

    I just had to explain to a guy in my office what I was laughing at. Which was awfully hard. Because... what was I laughing at? *snicker*

    I'm thinking that people who're smart enough to get degrees in neuroscience from MIT should be a) unable to write coherent sentences, and b) entirely unamusing. It should be a rule. It's just unfair to the rest of us, you know... ;)

  10. Thanks all :-) Now I just have to avoid getting lynched by my colleagues for perpetuating stereotypes...

  11. Hahahahahaha!!!!!

    Bloody brilliant..."I feel the same. Exactly the same...." hahahahahaha! Oh, Livia, you're good.

    Ok, I have to admit, I was actually kind of sucked into this because I've had several MRIs, so I was curious about the process, but the behind the scenes stuff--especially the experimental stuff threw me a bit.

    But, oh so sexy...absolutely steamy...hahahahaha!!! Oh, I hope there's a sequel....

  12. Carolina --

    Oh, wait til you see what happens in the EEG lab *wiggles eyebrows**

    Hehe, yeah, I can totally see how all the technical stuff can be confusing. I'm afraid I got a little jargon happy in the sheer sexiness of it all :-)

  13. Oh this was so great. I loved it! I have to show this one to my husband. I'm sure he'll be drooling by the end. Hehe!

  14. Too much fun - loved it. What an interesting blog, Livia! Thanks for joining the contest at Book Dreaming. I love making new blog friends! Good luck. :-)

  15. Who knew surface based normalization could be so erotic? This is hilarious. I laughed out loud when their eyes met and the scanner sang.
    (Although, like Carolina, I've had a fair number of scans in my life and one of my fears is being forgotten in those machines. So now I'll be wondering if the technicians are making eyes at each other!)

  16. Livia--Great! Perfect set-up and a perfect note at the end. I chuckled for a good five minutes after I finished reading. You did a skillful job of building expectation without overdoing it. Nicely done.

    Thanks also for stopping by my place and for becoming a follower!

  17. This is a hoot! Thanks for sharing, Livia!

  18. Thank you for giving us this. I just loved it. And that last line is just killer. :)

  19. Livia! Wow, that was so well written. I love the humor and tension!!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and becoming a follower!

    You ROCK!!!

  20. This absolutely ROCKED!!! I loved it. It was such a change from everything else posted in the blogfest (no offense to anybody elses entry...including my own).

    Beam me up, Scotty.

  21. Hahaha! This was AWESOME! Thanks for sharing some science love! Very well written, too! Your dialogue is great.

  22. I loved this!! So funny, GREAT tension and chemistry, awesome entry!

  23. This is so fantastic Livia. I laughed and loved it.

  24. Livia--I got an award this morning out of the blue so I'm passing it on.

    Tag, you're it!