Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Suckling infants trigger surges of trust hormone in mothers’ brains

18.07.2008
Researchers from the University of Warwick, in collaboration with other universities and institutes in Edinburgh, France and Italy, have for the first time been able to show exactly how, when a baby suckles at a mother’s breast, it starts a chain of events that leads to surges of the “trust” hormone oxytocin being released in their mothers brains.

The study, published on 18th July in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, focuses on the role of oxytocin, a very important hormone recently found be involved in the enhancement of “trust” and love in humans and animals. Oxytocin has long been known to be the trigger that, when released into the blood, causes milk to be let down from the mammary gland.

When oxytocin is released within the brain, it also helps to strengthen the bond between mother and child, but to have these effects, a very large amount must be released abruptly to cause a wave of the hormone that can spread through the brain.

What was not known before this study is exactly how the few thousand neurones, which are specialized to release oxytocin, are marshalled together to produce a sufficiently intense burst of activity to do all of that. In fact, even when a child is not suckling these neurons are continually producing oxytocin but in small amounts and in a much more uncoordinated way. Previous studies on individual neurons have found no obvious way of modifying their behaviour to get the coordinated response needed to produce the large, regular pulses of oxytocin that are needed.

... more about:
»Oxytocin »hormone »neurons

Now this University of Warwick led team of experimental neuroscientists and theoreticians have found a likely answer. The neuroscientists have found that in response to suckling the neurons start releasing oxytocin from their “dendrites” as well as from their nerve endings – this was unexpected because dendrites are usually thought as the part of a neurone which receive, rather than transmit information.

The dendrites usually create a weak network of connections between neurons. However the researchers have now shown that the release of oxytocin from the dendrites allows a massive increase in communication between the neurons. This co-ordinates a “swarm” of oxytocin factories, producing massive intense bursts of oxytocin release at intervals of around 5 minutes or so.

The synchronous activation of the few thousand oxytocin producing neurons is an example of “emergent” process. It develops in just the same way as a flock of birds or insects - closely coordinated action developing without a single leader.

University of Warwick computational biology researcher Professor Jianfeng Feng said:

“We knew that these pulses arise because, during suckling, oxytocin neurons fire together in dramatic synchronized bursts. But exactly how these bursts arise has been a major problem that has until now eluded explanation. This research has allowed us to incorporate all the latest research in a large computational model of the whole population of oxytocin cells.”

“In this model we have shown that the dendritic interactions are enhanced enough to trigger a massive positive-feedback on activity. The model gives us a possible explanation of an important event in the brain that could be used to study and explain many other similar brain activities.”

Peter Dunn | alfa
Further information:
http://www.warwick.ac.uk

Further reports about: Oxytocin hormone neurons

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>