Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Trust Hormone

AP - Swiss and American scientists say they have successfully manipulated subjects in an experiment to take risks they might not otherwise take by giving them a squirt of the hormone oxytocin to stimulate trusting behavior. Their finding could have beneficial applications in treating mental disorders, but they acknowledge the possibility of abuse...

Oxytocin is secreted in brain tissue and synthesized by the hypothalamus. This small, but crucial feature deep in the brain controls biological reactions like hunger, thirst and body temperature, as well as visceral fight-or-flight reactions associated with powerful, basic emotions like fear and anger.

For years oxytocin was considered to be a straightforward reproductive hormone found in both sexes. In both humans and animals, this chemical messenger stimulates uterine contractions in labor and induces milk production. In both women and men, oxytocin is released during sex, too...

Trust is the glue of society and human interactions. Erase it, and you compromise everything from love to trade and political order.

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