Researchers have found that the reason Patch loves you is all down to oxytocin hormone. The remarkable molecule is raised in both humans and their pet dogs when they gaze at each other. It appears that oxytocin evolved over thousands of years to ensure that mothers were attached to and could recognize their genetic offspring. Now it plays a key role in boding different species together.
Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University in Japan and colleagues observed that modern dogs and their owners secrete oxytocin when they interact with each other. Remarkably, dogs who gaze the most at their humans during interactions had the biggest oxytocin rise—as did their humans.
The scientists then spritzed oxytocin (or saline, as a control treatment) up the dogs’ noses. The oxytocin caused female dogs to gaze more at their humans…whose own oxytocin levels rose as a result. All of this only affected dogs and their owners. Hand-reared wolves and their owners didn’t react in the same way to the treatment, and dogs administered oxytocin didn’t gaze any longer at humans who weren’t familiar to them. In other words, dog and human brains seem to have evolved at lightning speed to co-opt oxytocin for bonding between our species.
This sure helps to explain people who use baby talk with their dogs. Even cooler is this teaching of a new trick to an old hormone—showing how evolution is a tinkerer, not an inventor, improvising with whatever is handy. Once humans and wolves started down this strange path together, their brains would never be the same.
Oxytocin hormone may be used as a treatment for anorexics through helping sufferers to reduce emotional associations with food and body shapes.
Researchers working together in both the UK and South Korea found that oxytocin nasal spray reduced patient's associations between food and extreme body shapes.
In studies of anorexic patients, researchers found oxytocin altered their tendencies to become fixated on images of fattening foods and large body shapes - suggesting it could be developed as a treatment to help them overcome unhealthy obsessions with diet.
A new study suggests that a squirt of oxytocin hormone could help couples resolve problems with their marriage as well as helping those with social functioning problems such as the autistic and the merely shy and anxious.
The two new studies illuminate the nuanced effects of the hormone: in the first study, researchers found that oxytocin had opposing, but complementary effects on men and women in romantic relationships, who were given a dose of the drug before discussing a contentious point in their relationship. When both people got oxytocin, their conflict resolution improved.
The research involved 47 healthy heterosexual couples who were either married or had been living together for at least a year; they were happy in their relationships and not seeking therapy. Before being given either oxytocin or placebo, they were told to pick two areas of disagreement in their relationship; after the oxytocin took effect, the couples discussed those issues with each other while being videotaped.
Men who received oxytocin rather than placebo responded more positively to their partners during their dispute, paying more attention to them and responding more cooperatively. Physically, their levels of emotional arousal increased, which researchers gauged by tracking levels in the saliva of a chemical linked with autonomic nervous system activity. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for generating emotional and physical states, such as fear, anger, happiness and the fight-or-flight response — and the men’s behavioral changes occurred in tandem with changes in their autonomic activity.
A video produced by the makers of Oxytocin Factor that describes some of the interesting effects of the oxytocin hormone. Every day it seems that more and more new facets of oxytocin and its influence on human behaviour are being revealed.
It seems that every week we read of some new discovery as to the amazing properties of the hormone oxytocin. Scientists have linked oxytocin to a variety of social functions in humans, from mother's bonding with their children, to how ready you are to trust a stranger, and even to sexual attraction. Some even hope that oxytocin could finally provide a cure for such impairments as autism and schizophrenia.
Already it is possible to buy oxytocin products that have been marketed as utilising the power of the hormone in order to improve various areas of your life, including your social life, your job, and even your love life.