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 Researchers Pinpoint Happily-Ever-After Secrets

Oxytocin fires up love, but kindness and generosity of spirit, along with gratitude, are the secrets to happily-ever-after.

Triggering Happiness Hormones In A Society in Turmoil

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 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 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

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

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 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

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?

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 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 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

If you want life-love long, be careful of the illusions trap.

Bliss Molecules and Love Hormones Propel Our Social Networks

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 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?

A Pilot Fearful During Flight as a Passenger

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on September 03, 2015 Conquer Fear Of Flying
A pilot writes, "I understand all of the concepts of flying and the safety relating to it. This is not my problem. I’m afraid only when I’m a passenger. It’s the feeling of not being in control. Also, my fear fear is associated with the plane’s movements, and not knowing if a turn is coming or when it is coming."

How the "Bonding Potion” Oxytocin May Cure Anorexia Nervosa

Oxytocin is widely known as the bonding hormone for its effects on love and lust between two people in a relationship. Many studies have been performed to determine whether this love potion can aid in psychological disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and depression.Oxytocin is making a big impact in science and is currently being researched to treat eating disorders.

Unconscious Memories Hide In the Brain but Can Be Retrieved

Researchers at Northwestern University have identify a unique brain mechanism used to store and retrieve unconscious memories.

Can Oxytocin Fortify Resilience Against Childhood Adversity?

A new study from Emory University reports that manipulating the oxytocin system has the potential to fortify a person's resilience against childhood adversity, abuse, or neglect.

Cortisol and Oxytocin Hardwire Fear-Based Memories

New research shows that the "stress hormone" cortisol and the "love hormone" oxytocin can create a double whammy when it comes to hardwiring anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Arousal: Must It Mean Fear and Danger?

We can feel fear when safe. We can feel no fear when in danger. It takes more than feelings to determine whether we are safe or not. A sophisticated system hosted in the pre-frontal cortex does that.

"Love Hormone" Oxytocin Linked to Domestic Violence

Oxytocin, which leads to trust and attachment, may also lead to possessive and abusive behaviours.

How Do Various Cortisol Levels Impact Cognitive Functioning?

Having just the right amount of cortisol in your bloodstream appears to optimize childhood cognitive functioning. What is the secret to finding the sweet spot between too much cortisol or too little cortisol?

Nature’s Antidepressant: The Dog

How do dogs work their magic on our mood? Researchers believe a big part of the answer is found in the chemical oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Dogs also affect our moods less directly, by being the catalyst of situations that help keep low spirits at bay, whether they spring from a diagnosed mood disorder or just a tough day at the office.

How Addiction Makes Strangers of Those We Love

Addiction can turn those we are closest to into people we don’t recognize – people who lie, steal, manipulate and who appear to value their drug of choice much more than they value us. As we watch in anguish as they turn their backs on all that once had meaning for them, we find ourselves asking, “Why don’t they care?”

Oxytocin — The Multitasking Love Hormone

Oxytocin is widely known because hospitals routinely use it to trigger and support birth. The hormone also triggers milk ejection during breastfeeding. But it is also involved elsewhere, including bonding. Oxytocin has significant effects on brain function as well as on the reproductive organs. But it has very ancient origins, so what was its initial function?

What is Love?

For Mother’s Day this blog will not address the pressing issues of psychiatry today. Suffice it to say that the harm done by the twin traumas of deprivation and abuse generate all the psychiatric struggles we are all subject to. This is the other side of the story - my appreciation for what I have learned from my wife.

The Ideal Dog

Having a well-mannered dog just might be easier than we thought.

Brainlock 101—How We Can't Help Becoming Stuck

You are trapped—by your own brain activity and chemistry, by developmental patterns from the past, by the way your patterns and your partner's patterns interlock with one another, and by social forces that are hard to see. Read about how this becomes "Brainlock" and cements you (in a plural sense) into a state of irrelationship.