Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oxytocin may inhibit social fobia

21.07.2008
Swedish and British scientists have shown using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that the hormone oxytocin can inhibit feelings of anxiety in specific individuals.

Their discovery might lead to a better understanding and the improved treatment of psychiatric affections in which people feel distressed when meeting others, such as in cases of autism and social phobia.

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that is secreted by the body during massage, childbirth and breastfeeding to induce a calming, analgesic effect. Animal studies have also shown that oxytocin promotes social interaction, such as during the courting process. The hormone has a direct influence on the amygdala, a brain area that is important for social interaction and for identifying immediate emotional threats. In a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, scientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet and the Welcome Trust Functional Imaging Laboratory in London show that oxytocin has a more targeted effect than simply producing a general feeling of wellbeing.

Subjects were shown pictures of four different faces, two of which were combined with a tiny, harmless but uncomfortable electric shock. As expected, the scientists found that the faces associated with the shock were considered more unpleasant than the others. However, when half of the subjects were then given oxytocin spray and the other half a placebo spray, an interesting change was brought about:

"When we showed the oxytocin group the two faces again that had previously been associated with the shock, they no longer found them disagreeable, while those who had received the placebo still found them so," says Dr Predrag Petrovic from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet.

Using an fMR scanner, the team also found that subjects who had developed shock-induced feelings of anxiety for certain faces exhibited, when shown these faces, higher levels of activity in two brain areas – the amygdale and the ‘fusiform face area’ – that process unpleasant and threatening faces. These activity levels then dropped when they were given oxytocin, but not when given the placebo.

"This suggests that oxytocin can reduce anxiety and increase the chances of social contact for people with certain types of psychiatric disorder", says Dr Petrovic. "There are also previous studies to show that oxytocin can inhibit amygdala activity, which tells us that we should see this as an opportunity for new forms of treatment."

Funding: The study was conducted at the Welcome Trust Functional Imaging Laboratory in London and the data analysed in London and at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The study was co-financed by the Swedish Research Council.

Publication: 'Oxytocin Attenuates Affective Evaluations of Conditioned Faces and Amygdala Activity', Predrag Petrovic, Raffael Kalisch, Tania Singer, and Raymond J Dolan, Journal of Neuroscience online 25 June 2008.

Katarina Sternudd | alfa
Further information:
http://ki.se
http://ki.se/ki/jsp/polopoly.jsp?l=en&d=130&a=58156&newsdep=130

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>