Impact of prosocial neuropeptides on human brain function.

Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany.
Progress in brain research (Impact Factor: 5.1). 01/2008; 170:463-70. DOI: 10.1016/S0079-6123(08)00436-6
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Oxytocin and vasopressin are key effectors of social behaviour (Insel, T. R. and Fernald, R. D. (2004). Annu. Rev. Neurosci., 27: 697-722). Oxytocin effects in humans were recently demonstrated by a behavioural study showing selectively increased trust after hormone administration (Kosfeld, M., et al. (2005). Nature, 435: 673-676). Since this suggested involvement of the amygdala, which is linked to trust (Winston, J. S., et al. (2002). Nat. Neurosci., 5: 277-283) - presumably because of its role in danger monitoring - and highly expresses oxytocin receptors (Huber, D., et al. (2005). Science, 308: 245-248), we studied amygdala circuitry after double-blind crossover intranasal application of placebo or oxytocin (Kirsch, P., et al. (2005). J. Neurosci., 25: 11489-11493). Oxytocin potently reduced amygdala activation and decreased coupling to brainstem regions implicated in autonomic and behavioural manifestations of fear, indicating a neural mechanism for the effects of oxytocin in social cognition in humans and providing a potential therapeutic approach to social anxiety currently being tested in social phobia and autism. Furthermore, these data suggested a translational genetic approach. Preliminary findings (data not presented) from our laboratory using imaging genetics indeed implicate genetic variants for both AVPR1A, encoding the primary receptor of vasopressin in brain, and the oxytocin receptor, OXTR, in amygdala regulation and activation. Taken together, our results indicate neural mechanisms for human social behaviour mediating genetic risk for autism through an impact on amygdala signalling and provide a rationale for exploring therapeutic strategies aimed at abnormal amygdala function in this disorder and in social dysfunction in general.

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    ABSTRACT: Jill Holmquist, J.D. is a trial consultant and President of Forensic Anthropology, Inc. ("FAI") where she works with Dr. Martin Q. Peterson, one of the pioneers in trial consulting. She is also an attorney licensed in California and Nebraska. FAI provides trial consulting services nationally for plaintiff and defense counsel in cases that range from personal injury suits to complex business transactions and patent infringement suits. In our quest to perfect our trial skills and improve outcomes, lawyers and trial consultants have, for at least 30 years, turned to science. Our understanding of it is incomplete and our implementation imperfect, yet we make progress. But sometimes our incomplete knowledge does a disservice, as does the treatment of the triune brain in David Ball and Don Keenan's Reptile: The 2009 Manual of The Plaintiff's Revolution. In the Reptile Manual, the authors frame trial strategy in terms of reptilian survival. Why? Because, they say, (a) jurors see you, plaintiffs' counsel, "as a menace to their survival"; 1 (b) "it is too late to respond with logic alone or even with emotion"; 2 and, therefore, (c) to prevail, plaintiffs' attorneys must frame their cases to activate jurors' reptilian survival mode. 3 In Ball and Keenan's approach, your (the attorney's) survival is at stake because jurors think you threaten their survival; therefore, you need to show jurors that the defense is the real threat. You need not be in terror mode, but otherwise the reptilian angle is not a bad trial strategy, but it is a one-dimensional strategy.
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    ABSTRACT: Accumulating evidence demonstrates the important role of oxytocin (OT) in the modulation of social cognition and behavior. This has led many to suggest that the intranasal administration of OT may benefit psychiatric disorders characterized by social dysfunction, such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. Here, we review nasal anatomy and OT pathways to central and peripheral destinations, along with the impact of OT delivery to these destinations on social behavior and cognition. The primary goal of this review is to describe how these identified pathways may contribute to mechanisms of OT action on social cognition and behavior (that is, modulation of social information processing, anxiolytic effects, increases in approach-behaviors). We propose a two-level model involving three pathways to account for responses observed in both social cognition and behavior after intranasal OT administration and suggest avenues for future research to advance this research field.
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    ABSTRACT: All jawed vertebrates produce a form of oxytocin (OT), and in birds, mammals and fish, OT is strongly associated with affiliation. However, remarkably few data are available on the roles of OT and OT receptors (OTRs) in aggression. Because OT and OTRs exert anxiolytic effects in mammals (although context-specific) and modulate stress coping, we hypothesized that OTR activation is at least permissive for territorial aggression. Indeed, we find that peripheral injections of an OTR antagonist significantly reduce male-male and female-female aggression in a highly territorial finch. This finding suggests the hypothesis that aggression is accompanied by an increase in transcriptional (Fos) activity of OT neurons, but contrary to this hypothesis, we find that dominant male residents do not elevate OT-Fos colocalization following an aggressive encounter and that OT-Fos colocalization in the preoptic area and hypothalamus correlates negatively with aggression. Furthermore, OT-Fos colocalization increases dramatically in males that were aggressively subjugated or pursued by a human hand, likely reflecting OT modulation of stress response. Because OT inhibits the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, the antagonist effects may reflect the fact that aggressive birds and mammals tend to be hyporesponsive to stress. If this is correct, then 1) the observed effects of OTR antagonism may reflect alterations in corticosterone feedback to the brain rather than centrally mediated OTR effects, and 2) the negative correlation between OT-Fos colocalization and aggression may reflect the fact that more aggressive, stress hyporesponsive males require less inhibition of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis than do less aggressive males, despite the requirement of that inhibition for the normal display of aggression. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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