Feldman R, Gordon I, Zagoory-Sharon O. Maternal and paternal plasma, salivary, and urinary oxytocin and parent-infant synchrony: considering stress and affiliation components of human bonding. Dev Sci 14: 752-761

Department of Psychology and the Gonda Brain Sciences Center, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.
Developmental Science (Impact Factor: 3.89). 07/2011; 14(4):752-61. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.01021.x
Source: PubMed


Studies in mammals have implicated the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) in processes of bond formation and stress modulation, yet the involvement of OT in human bonding throughout life remains poorly understood. We assessed OT in the plasma, saliva, and urine of 112 mothers and fathers interacting with their 4-6-month-old infants. Parent-infant interactions were micro-coded for parent and child's social behaviors and for the temporal coordination of their socio-affective cues. Parents were interviewed regarding their attachment to the infant and reported on bonding to own parents, romantic attachment, and parenting stress. Results indicated that OT in plasma (pOT) and saliva (sOT) were inter-related and were unrelated to OT in urine (uOT). pOT and sOT in mothers and fathers were associated with parent and child's social engagement, affect synchrony, and positive communicative sequences between parent and child. uOT was related to moments of interactive stress among mothers only, indexed by the co-occurrence of infant negative engagement and mother re-engagement attempts. pOT and sOT were associated with mothers' and fathers' attachment relationships throughout life: to own parents, partner, and infant, whereas uOT correlated with relationship anxiety and parenting stress among mothers only. Similar to other mammals, OT is involved in human attachment and contingent parenting. The dual role of OT in stress and affiliation underscores its complex involvement in processes of social bonding throughout life.

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    • "Salivary OT provides an easy and non-invasive method of examining peripheral OT levels, although the coordination between various peripheral measure remains an area of research (Weisman et al., 2012). Earlier research has demonstrated the link between salivary and plasma measures of OT (Feldman et al., 2011), and salivary OT is elevated after intranasal OT administration (Weisman et al., 2012). Saliva was collected using Salivettes (Sarstedt, Rommelsdorf, Germany). "
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    ABSTRACT: Clinical anxiety disorders in youth are common and associated with interpersonal behaviors including reliance on parents for family accommodation, or changes that parents make to their own behaviors to help the youth avoid anxiety related distress. The neuropeptide oxytocin is associated with the regulation of anxiety and of close interpersonal behavior leading to the hypothesis that oxytocinergic functioning plays a role in youth anxiety and its disorders, and the resulting family accommodation. To test this hypothesis salivary oxytocin from 50 youth with primary DSM-5 anxiety disorders was assayed. A multi-source/multi-method anxiety assessment including semistructured interviews with youth and mothers, rating scales, and behavioral observations was used to assess anxiety disorders and symptoms, and family accommodation.Youth with separation anxiety disorder had significantly lower salivary oxytocin levels than clinically anxious youth not diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder. Salivary oxytocin levels were significantly negatively correlated with separation anxiety symptoms based on both youth- and mother-ratings.Anxious behavior displayed by youth during interactions with their mothers was associated with lower salivary oxytocin levels in youth. Maternal ratings of family accommodation were negatively associated with salivary oxytocin levels in youth. Results support the role of the oxytocinergic system in youth anxiety and its disordersand in parental involvement in youth anxiety through family accommodation. Oxytocin may be particularly important for diagnoses and symptoms of separation anxiety, which is inherently interpersonal in nature. Findings have potentially important implications for assessment and treatment ofanxiety in youth.
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    • "Though it is clear that the OXT system modulates the perceptions and behavior of an individual by acting on oxytocin receptors (OXTRs) in the ''social brain'', less attention has been given to whether augmentation of OXT levels alters others' perceptions and behavior toward an OXT-treated social partner. There is evidence in humans that maternal and paternal levels of plasma and salivary OXT are positively related to infant social engagement (Feldman et al., 2011). Furthermore, infants express more social behavior(s) in face-to-face interactions when their father receives intranasal OXT than when their father receives placebo, and experience a post-interaction increase in salivary OXT (Weisman et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Adult male-female bonds are partly characterized by initiating and maintaining close proximity with a social partner, as well as engaging in high levels of affiliative and sociosexual behavior. Oxytocin (OXT), a neuromodulatory nonapeptide, plays a critical role in the facilitation of social bonding and prosocial behavior toward a social partner (Feldman, 2012). However, less attention has been given to whether augmentation of OXT levels in an individual alters others' perceptions and behavior toward an OXT-treated social partner. We examined social dynamics in well-established male-female pairs of marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) in which one member of the pair was administered an intranasal OXT agonist, an OXT antagonist (OXTA), or saline. OXT treatment did not alter the expression of affiliative toward an untreated partner. However, OXT did significantly influence the expression of proximity and grooming behavior with a treated partner, as a function of OXT treatment and sex. Female interest in initiating and maintaining proximity with a pair-mate was altered by OXT treatment. Untreated female marmosets departed from their saline-treated partner more frequently than they approached them, as indicated by a low proximity index score. However, when males received an intranasal OXT agonist they had a significantly increased proximity index score relative to saline, indicating that their untreated partner approached them more often than they departed from them). Saline-treated females initiated and received equivalent levels of grooming behavior. However, when female marmosets were treated with an OXT agonist their untreated partner groomed them proportionately more often, for a greater total duration, and for more time per bout, than they initiated grooming behavior. These results suggest that intranasal OXT altered male and female marmosets' stimulus properties in such a way as to increase the amount of grooming behavior that females received from their long-term mate, as well as increase female interest in initiating and maintaining proximity with their long-term mate. Furthermore, these results support the notion that central OXT activity plays an important neuromodulatory role in the maintenance of long-lasting male-female relationships.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
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    • "The pattern of dyadic synchronization as presented in our data is consistent with studies on marmoset dyadic behavioral synchrony [78] and on human parent–infant bonding: Human infants, whose fathers had been previously treated with exogenous OT, showed an indirect increase of peripheral OT levels after interaction with the father [5] [79] and longitudinal synchronization between individuals occurred on the behavioral level [5] [80] [81]. Finally, in humans, menstrual hormonal synchrony has been described among close friends and in families where mutual contact and exposure were high [82] [83]. "

    Full-text · Dataset · Aug 2015
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