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Hormone Aids Memory of Positive Moments

Emerging research suggests oxytocin, a hormone traditionally associated with lactation, also plays an important role in social bonding and maternal behaviors.

A new study scheduled for publication in the August 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry now shows that one way oxytocin promotes social affiliation in humans is by enhancing the encoding of positive social memories.

Adam J. Guastella, Ph.D. and his colleagues sought to evaluate the effects of oxytocin on the encoding and recognition of faces in humans.

They recruited healthy male volunteers and in a double-blind, randomized design, administered either oxytocin or a placebo. They then presented a series of happy, angry and neutral human faces to the volunteers on a computer screen.

Participants returned the following day where they were presented with a collection of faces and asked to distinguish the new faces from ones that they saw on the prior day.

The results revealed that those who received oxytocin were more likely to remember the happy faces they had seen previously, more so than the angry and neutral faces.

Dr. Guastella notes that the “findings are exciting because they show for the first time that oxytocin facilitates the encoding of positive social information over social information that is either neutral or negative.”

John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, comments on the findings:

“The findings from Guastella and colleagues provide new evidence about a chemical system in the body that may help us to connect socially to other people. One could imagine that our ability to recall a particularly happy face at the end of a day full of social contacts could reflect an action of oxytocin.”

Social isolation can be a feature of several psychiatric disorders. The success of oxytocin in enhancing positive social memories raises the possibility that oxytocin, or drugs that might act like oxytocin in the brain, could be used to help people who are socially isolated and have difficulty making social connections.

Source: Elsevier

Hormone Aids Memory of Positive Moments

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Hormone Aids Memory of Positive Moments. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/28/hormone-aids-memory-of-positive-moments/2662.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.