Beyond cuddling: Oxytocin and the brain (The Dana Foundation Website – 14 February 2011)

Dana_logo Oxytocin is a neurochemical with significant reach.  So it's no surprise that it was well represented at the Society for Neuroscience's annual conference.


Despite the variety of research topics one can find at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting, one word, oxytocin, kept popping up at this year’s conference. This small neuropeptide, produced in two specialized areas of the hypothalamus, was mentioned in nearly 100 abstracts published in the meeting program. Though oxytocin has long been linked to maternal and romantic bonds, giving it the nickname of the “cuddle chemical,” new research presented at Neuroscience 2010 suggests its reach goes far beyond cuddling. Oxytocin may have something to say about a variety of conditions and emotional states including autism, anxiety, happiness, and susceptibility to advertising messages. This research is still preliminary—researchers caution that they don't know what potential side-effects or long-term effects of taking the hormone may be…

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