Oxytocin might be neurobiolgical basis for monogamy
LA Times Come for the romance, stay for the oxytocin. That’s the neurobiological bottom line on monogamy, according to a new study.
Men spritzed with
oxytocin, a hormone from the pituitary gland, showed a renewed
attraction for the faces of their romantic partners, but not for equally
attractive strangers, according to a study published online Monday in
the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
And the men weren’t just saying so. Their brains were hyped up in
areas associated with reward and motivation, according to the study.
“Monogamy is actually quite
costly for humans, so there must be some form of benefit,” said Rene
Hurlemann, a psychiatrist at the University of Bonn in Germany who led
the study. “We’d expect humans, especially males, would disseminate
their genes. That would be a very strong evolutionary force driving male
behavior. But what drives males to stay in a monogamous relationship?”
The answer may lie in a steady diet of oxytocin that triggers dopamine, a
neurotransmitter associated with reward, motivation and addiction,
according to the study.
In humans, overtures of social support, hugs, massages and sexual
intercourse all release oxytocin. And oxytocin, in turn, has been shown
to induce pro-social behavior –- we tend to trust each other and feel
more attached to others in response to the chemical. [...]