Article

Prosocial effects of oxytocin and clinical evidence for its therapeutic potential

Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, 53105 Bonn, Germany.
Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology (Impact Factor: 7.58). 07/2011; 32(4):426-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2011.07.001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There has been unprecedented interest in the prosocial effects of the neuropeptide oxytocin in humans over the last decade. A range of studies has demonstrated correlations between basal oxytocin levels and the strength of social and bonding behaviors both in healthy individuals and in those suffering from psychiatric disorders. Mounting evidence suggests associations between polymorphisms in the oxytocin receptor gene and prosocial behaviors and there may also be important epigenetic effects. Many studies have now reported a plethora of prosocial effects of intranasal application of oxytocin, including the domains of trust, generosity, socially reinforced learning, and emotional empathy. The main focus of this review will be to summarize human preclinical work and particularly the rapidly growing number of clinical studies which have identified important links between oxytocin and a wide range of psychiatric disorders, and have now started to directly assess its therapeutic potential.

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    • "etal.,2012).Thus,whilehigherAMYactivationinmotherswas positivelyassociatedwithplasmaoxytocinconcentrations,this wasnotthecaseinfathers.Inmothersoxytocinconcentrations werepositivelyassociatedwithactivityintheleftINS,leftinferior parietallobule(IPL),bilateraltemporalcortex(TC),leftventral ACCandleftNAcc.Infathersontheotherhandactivation intheleftIFG,SFGandmedialprefrontalcortex(mPFC),left postCGandleftACCwasnegativelyassociatedwithoxytocin concentrations.Thesefindingsagainsupportthepossibility thatoxytocinmaybeinfluencingbrainregionsassociatedwith attention,emotion,rewardandevenmotorprocessingdifferently inmothersandfathers,althoughobviouslysomecautionneedsto beappliedtosuchsimplecorrelationalanalysesofthiskind. Anumberofstudieshavereportedeffectsofintranasal oxytocinonreducingAMYresponsestonegativeemotionalfaces (seeStriepensetal.,2011)andalsotobothlaughing(Riemetal., 2012)andcrying(Riemetal.,2011a)infants.Howeverdespitethe factthatgreaterAMYactivationhasbeenreportedinresponse toowninfantfacesinmothers(Atziletal.,2012;Strathearnand Kim,2013),effectsofoxytocinonAMYresponsestoinfantfaces havesofarnotbeenfound. "
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    ABSTRACT: We find infant faces highly attractive as a result of specific features which Konrad Lorenz termed "Kindchenschema" or "baby schema," and this is considered to be an important adaptive trait for promoting protective and caregiving behaviors in adults, thereby increasing the chances of infant survival. This review first examines the behavioral support for this effect and physical and behavioral factors which can influence it. It then provides details of the increasing number of neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies investigating the neural circuitry underlying this baby schema effect in parents and non-parents of both sexes. Next it considers potential hormonal contributions to the baby schema effect in both sexes and the neural effects associated with reduced responses to infant cues in post-partum depression, anxiety and drug taking. Overall the findings reviewed reveal a very extensive neural circuitry involved in our perception of cuteness in infant faces, with enhanced activation compared to adult faces being found in brain regions involved in face perception, attention, emotion, empathy, memory, reward and attachment, theory of mind and also control of motor responses. Both mothers and fathers also show evidence for enhanced responses in these same neural systems when viewing their own as opposed to another child. Furthermore, responses to infant cues in many of these neural systems are reduced in mothers with post-partum depression or anxiety or have taken addictive drugs throughout pregnancy. In general reproductively active women tend to rate infant faces as cuter than men, which may reflect both heightened attention to relevant cues and a stronger activation in their brain reward circuitry. Perception of infant cuteness may also be influenced by reproductive hormones with the hypothalamic neuropeptide oxytocin being most strongly associated to date with increased attention and attraction to infant cues in both sexes.
    Frontiers in Psychology 07/2015; 6:970. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00970 · 2.80 Impact Factor
    • "Theoretically, changes in interpersonal function, i.e. disturbed affiliative behaviors, impaired reading of social cues, impaired establishment of trust, reduced capacity for attachment, and inability to cope with social stressors, may be related to altered regulation of the oxytocin (OT) system (Eckstein and Hurlemann, 2013; Herpertz and Bertsch, 2014; Meyer-Lindenberg et al., 2011; Stanley and Siever, 2010; Striepens et al., 2011). OT, a hypothalamic neuropeptide, stimulates milk ejection and uterine contraction at parturition in mammals and has been linked to prosocial behavior and social approach in humans (Carter, 1998; Kosfeld et al., 2005). "
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    • "Theoretically, changes in interpersonal function, i.e. disturbed affiliative behaviors, impaired reading of social cues, impaired establishment of trust, reduced capacity for attachment, and inability to cope with social stressors, may be related to altered regulation of the oxytocin (OT) system (Eckstein and Hurlemann, 2013; Herpertz and Bertsch, 2014; Meyer-Lindenberg et al., 2011; Stanley and Siever, 2010; Striepens et al., 2011). OT, a hypothalamic neuropeptide, stimulates milk ejection and uterine contraction at parturition in mammals and has been linked to prosocial behavior and social approach in humans (Carter, 1998; Kosfeld et al., 2005). "
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