What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a powerful hormone. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in pair bonding. Prairie voles, one of nature's most monogamous species, produce oxytocin in spades. This hormone is also greatly stimulated during sex, birth, breast feeding—the list goes on.

Recent posts on Oxytocin

Love Potion No. 9

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 01, 2016 in Talking Apes
Oxytocin is commonly known as the “love hormone,” but it can have opposite effects depending on the person and the situation.

The Selfishness of Altruism

Altruism feels good because it stimulates dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. In our quest for good feelings, we don't always monitor the results of our altruistic gestures.

Music and the Brain's Reward and Bonding Systems

By Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. on April 28, 2016 in NeuroSagacity
If we look at the neurobiology behind our emotional response to Prince, his music, and his death, it seems that there are two primary brain systems responsible.

Is Love Simply a Puff of Oxytocin?

Bonding is an essential part of social, sexual and family life. How much is this due to one simple chemical in the brain?

How Likely Is Your Airliner's Engine to Fail?

Airliners can fly on one engine. Since that leaves no engine in reserve, pilots are required to land immediately if over land. But what happens over water?

The Surprising Benefits of the "Bromance"

Studies show there's more to male friendships than beer chugging contests and fist bumps.

Pumping Up Hormones

How hormones can explain breast pump failures

The Science of Love and Attachment

Are you in love or in lust? How can you build a relationship that lasts? What do we do when the excitement goes down? An understanding of brain chemicals can provide answers.

6 Science-based Tips for Lifelong Love

Looking for happily-ever-after? Here are 6 science-based ways to lifelong love.

Don’t Try to be Happy on International Day of Happiness

By Eva Ritvo M.D. on March 19, 2016 in On Vitality
We’ve always simply taken it as a given that our ultimate goal should be happiness. But is kindness a better goal?

Dogs and Breasts Boost the Same Hormone?

Did breastfeeding & now puppies feed my happiness hormones? Small studies suggest so.

Why I Question Academic Research on Happiness

Academic research rests on the belief that “our society is the problem.” Here's what you lose when your information is filtered through a belief system.

A Neuropsychology of Election 2016

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on February 27, 2016 in Just Listen
Trump = Dopamine; Cruz/Rubio/Clinton = Cortisol; Sanders = Oxytocin; Kasich = Endorphin; Carson = *

Nothing Like the First Time

What do we really know about the love hormone?

Love Researchers Pinpoint Happily-Ever-After Secrets

By Rita Watson MPH on January 31, 2016 in With Love and Gratitude
Oxytocin fires up love, but kindness and generosity of spirit, along with gratitude, are the secrets to happily-ever-after.
Creative Magic/Pixabay

Triggering Happiness Hormones In A Society in Turmoil

By Carol S. Pearson Ph.D. on January 27, 2016 in The Hero Within
Ever feel lost, despairing, angry, and searching for answers? I have, and found some answers through learning how to trigger my body's joy hormones.

Of Mice and Women: A Dark Side of Oxytocin and Conservation

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 27, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Studies of sex differences in responses to stress now focus on females. Usually data from animal studies are used for humans, but this information is important for the animals.

Voles Console Friends and Display Oxytocin-Based Empathy

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 24, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A new study on prairie voles shows for the first time that rodents console others in distress. Consolation appears to evolve under specific social and evolutionary conditions.

The Neuroscience of Comforting Behavior in Times of Distress

By Christopher Bergland on January 22, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A groundbreaking new study has pinpointed the brain systems that drive humans—and other animals—to physically comfort others during times of distress.

Maintaining Close Friendships Requires Face-to-Face Contact

By Christopher Bergland on January 19, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A new study has found that maintaining strong social bonds requires face-to-face contact. It appears that overusing Facebook may unintentionally sabotage your closest friendships.

Smashing the Neurotransmitter Myth

Serotonin depletion is not the cause of psychiatric conditions. Antidepressants are a significant factor in suicides and mass mass murders.

Are Power Over Relationships Inevitable?

By Amy Banks on January 09, 2016 in Wired For Love
“Neuroaffiliative hormones” are chemicals running through your body 24/7 that help shape your experience of being in human relationship.

Our Amygdala Influences Kindness and Altruism, Not Just Fear

By Christopher Bergland on December 16, 2015 in The Athlete's Way
The amygdala is not just the brain's "fear center." A new study reports that the "love hormone" oxytocin can influence kindness, altruism and charitable behavior via the amygdala.

Fear Can Make You Believe the Worst Will Happen. How?

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on December 16, 2015 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
Reflective function critiques our take on reality. When stress hormones cause reflective function to fail, it becomes impossible for us to know what is imaginary and what is real.

Is Oxytocin the “Trust Molecule"?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on December 14, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
People love simple stories about human psychology. They get touted in the news all the time. Play brain games and get smarter. Meditate and watch your stress melt away.

Child Rearing: Boundaries and Love

At a certain point during breastfeeding, it is natural for the baby to bite the breast. This is one of many important avenues for mother and baby to negotiate their boundaries—between self and other. All of child rearing revolves around boundaries and love.

What Does Black Friday Do to Your Brain?

By Eva Ritvo M.D. on November 21, 2015 in On Vitality
Did you know that Black Friday is bad for your brain? Based on neuroscience, we've got the perfect way to turn Black Friday into Bright Friday.

Love at First Sight and Life-Long Love: 20 Questions

By Rita Watson MPH on November 05, 2015 in With Love and Gratitude
If you want life-love long, be careful of the illusions trap.

Bliss Molecules and Love Hormones Propel Our Social Networks

By Christopher Bergland on October 28, 2015 in The Athlete's Way
Neuroscientists from the University of California, Irvine have discovered that the “love hormone” oxytocin stimulates the brain production of self-produced cannabis neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids—which are also known as the “bliss molecule." This dynamic duo enhances the pleasure of social interactions and drives our human urge for intimate relationships.

When Is the Best Time to Give Birth?

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on September 14, 2015 in How We Do It
Medical intervention in human birth is now so widespread in industrialized countries that deliveries are seldom spontaneous. Yet with no intervention there is clear persistence of a general mammalian 24-hour biorhythm in birth hour. Is this just a carryover from ancestors that gave birth during their inactive period, or is that basic rhythm still biologically important?