Play ball or go rogue? Oxytocin affects cooperative behavior

Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” helps to regulate social and sexual interactions. Best known for its role in romantic and mother-infant bonding, scientists are now showing that it could also influence whether we cooperate with others in a team setting.

Researchers Jennifer McClung, Zegni Triki, and colleagues, from the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, have wondered about our unique ability to cooperate with other individuals, as well as to withdraw cooperation.

But how, and why, do we sometimes choose to be team players, whereas at other times we prefer to take our chances and go solo?

Full story at Medical News Today

Oxytocin reduces cravings for methamphetamine

Many people have suggested that addiction hijacks the body’s natural drives in the service of compulsive drug use. A new study now suggests that hijacking another natural system in the brain may help overcome drug addiction. Published in Biological Psychiatry, the study shows that administration of oxytocin — a naturally occurring molecule well known for its role in social bonding and childbirth — reduces drug-seeking behavior in methamphetamine-addicted rats.

“There are virtually no pharmacotherapeutics for methamphetamine addiction, a chronically relapsing disease that destroys many lives,” said first author Dr. Brittney Cox, now at the University of California Irvine. “Our results are important because they support development of novel, oxytocin-based therapeutics for methamphetamine abuse in humans.”

Full story of oxytocin and methamphetamine cravings at Science Daily

Potential Role of ‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin in Brain Function Revealed

In a loud, crowded restaurant, having the ability to focus on the people and conversation at your own table is critical. Nerve cells in the brain face similar challenges in separating wanted messages from background chatter. A key element in this process appears to be oxytocin, typically known as the “love hormone” for its role in promoting social and parental bonding.

In a study appearing online August 4 in Nature, NYU Langone Medical Center researchers decipher how oxytocin, acting as a neurohormone in the brain, not only reduces background noise, but more importantly, increases the strength of desired signals. These findings may be relevant to autism, which affects one in 88 children in the United States.

“Oxytocin has a remarkable effect on the passage of information through the brain,” says Richard W. Tsien, DPhil, the Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Neuroscience Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It not only quiets background activity, but also increases the accuracy of stimulated impulse firing. Our experiments show how the activity of brain circuits can be sharpened, and hint at how this re-tuning of brain circuits might go awry in conditions like autism.”

Full story oxytocin the love hormone at Science Daily

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