The Love Competition

Seven contestants have five minutes in Stanford's fMRI brain scanner to love someone ‘as hard as they can’

Brent Hoff

15 minutes

The Love Competition

  • Can you look inside the living brain and tell what someone is feeling? For the first time in history we have fMRI – a technology that promises to show the neurochemical traces of joy, rage, love and hate, as they cascade through the brain. Filmmaker Brent Hoff enlisted the Stanford Center for Cognitive Neurobiological Imaging to hold the world’s first ever ‘love competition’. Seven contestants had five minutes in an fMRI machine to love someone ‘as hard as they can’. The idea that love can be measured may seem deeply unromantic: the results were anything but.

  • Director Biography:

    Brent Hoff is a writer, filmmaker and co-founder of Wholphin. Before that he authored a book on pandemic disease transmission, made TV at The Daily Show, and wrote articles on math and squid. Filmmaker Magazine named him one of 2012’s ‘25 New Faces of independent Film’. His interactive project BlabDroid is filming the world’s first documentary shot and directed entirely by robots. His script on the last days of Ol’ Dirty Bastard is in pre-production and The Love Competition recently won the Nature Scientific Merit Award.

  • Director: Brent Hoff
  • Producer: Malcolm Pullinger
  • Editor: Malcolm Pullinger
  • Cinematographer: Mo Gorjestani, Ryan Greeley
  • Original Music: The Pauses (Nathan Chase, Jason Kupfer, Tierney Tough)

  • Running Time: 15 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Website:

Add your own review…

  • ABK

    Is love really measurable? I have no idea. I don’t know if I believe the facts of this experiment. But I believe the metaphor, which made me cry happy tears. So thank you for a beautiful film, and especially for the interviews.

  • sabibi


  • Vanessa

    What a beautiful mixture of science and humanity.

  • L T Andrews

    Resonates .. Mutual Inductance .. like the handheld scanner searching for metal … but a thin description…. like trying to describe what is to be seen on the Monitor by watching the signal in the cable fluctuate…. a Lot Missing.. These Doors of Perception…. LOVE! is a verb… nouns just don’t describe .. the Action.. Science maintains that GOD can not be proven.. “Coincidence.. ” … “”GOD IS LOVE!”. *MRI … needs to Baseline ..Hate & Evil if It can… then we can talk.. ; as a Neuro-Psychotherapist … I have little patience for technicians .. who think they can “Explain” the psychology of Philosophy, Art, & Religion.. .. it would be easier for Simian to build an Atomic Bomb. Nice Try.. Stanford.. Thank You. LT <3 <3 > ☼ << ….. LOVE! ….. <3 <3 <3

  • Monty Wyne

    I was profoundly moved and felt an unexpected connection to each of the subjects, especially Don and his wife. What a magical relationship. Although I wasn’t surprised at second place, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy for this young man. His life will be filled with lasting and fulfilling relationships.

  • S.A.D

    Rewarding the ones who are most loving or who can at least display the most evidence of being loving. Yes! Let this be the beginnings of a movement. Let the ability to love and to love well be something to which we all aspire!

  • Joseph Hyden

    I didn’t expect to be as moved by this as I was. I don’t want to spoil it for others, so I’ll just say the real tear jerker for me was the second-place reveal.