Study: Oxytocin Can Change How You Remember Your Mom

By Andrew Moseman | November 29, 2010 5:17 pm

mother talking with her sonYou’ve probably heard oxytocin referred to as the “love hormone,” but a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reminds us that there’s much more to it than that. Jennifer Bartz and colleagues treated men either with nasal sprays that included oxytocin or placebo sprays that didn’t, with peculiar results.

From Ed Yong:

Before all of this, the men completed a series of widely used questionnaires to measure the state of their social ties. The questions assessed the nature of their bonds with their families and friends, how sensitive they are to rejection, how comfortable they are at being close to other people, how much they desire that closeness, and more. Shortly after using both sprays, the recruits also answered questions about their mother’s parenting style.

Bartz found that when she averaged out the volunteers’ results, the sniffs of oxytocin hadn’t seemed to colour their memories of their mothers. But things changed when she looked at them individually. Those who felt more anxious about their relationships took a dimmer view of their mother’s parenting styles when they sniffed oxytocin, compared to the placebo. Those who were more secure in their relationships reacted in the opposite way – they remembered mum as being closer and more caring when they took the oxytocin.

For the rest of this post, check out DISCOVER blog Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Related Content:
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Can a sniff of oxytocin improve the social skills of autistic people?
80beats: The “Love Hormone” Oxytocin Helps People Recognize Faces They’ve Seen Before
DISCOVER: A Dose of Human Kindness, Now in Chemical Form examines oxytocin’s effects on generosity

Image: iStockphoto

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