By Elizabeth Cook

STANFORD (KPIX 5) – Love will be measured all kinds of silly ways this Valentine’s Day, maybe the number of roses or maybe the cost of dinner. But it turns out there really is a way to measure love, you can even see it.

Kent and Marilyn Pelz can tell you all about love.

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“So we met on a Friday on a blind date, 1961. And 4 days later I asked Marilyn to marry me and she said ‘yes,’” Kent Pelz told KPIX 5.

Sure enough, here they are more than 53 years later. But they’re one of the very few couples who have ever measured their love, with magnetic resonance imaging.

At the request of a filmmaker – a Stanford neurobiologist held what you might call a love competition. Contestants when into an MRI machine, and were asked to think about something that made their heart soar.

“I was thinking of Kent, I was thinking of my children, and the birth of my children,” Marilyn Pelz recalled.

“It’s very easy for me to conjure up the excitement and the fireworks of that first week or two when we first met,” Kent Pelz said.

But it’s important to remember that love is more than just romance.

“My little cousin, ‘cause she’s just so special to me, and I love her,” said Milo Hoff, who also participated in the study.

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From there, the MRI team measured activity in the brain.

“The neurons are firing, the blood is gushing and hey, we see a signal,” said GE Magnetic Resonance Scientist scientist Suchandrima Banerjee. “The tools are tedious, but it gives you insight into something really romantic.”

As for the results, we’ll start with the guy who loves his newborn cousin.

“Yeah, I got second place. Just below a couple that’s been married for 50 years,” Hoff said.

After 50 years, their love endures. So strong, it can actually be seen on the MRI.

“A deep respect, a deep respect, that’s the most important thing,” Marilyn Pelz said.

“And it doesn’t hurt that she’s as beautiful today as the day I met her,” Kent Pelz said.

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The film, called “The Love Competition” is available online.

Elizabeth Cook