Oxytocin: Not Just A Sex Hormone, But A 'Bonding Agent'
You know that 'love at first sight' thing? Much of that feeling, including the feeling of sexual arousal, is due to the hormone oxytocin (not to be confused with the drug 'oxycodone'), which is produced by the hypothalmus and released by the pituitary gland. Researchers at the University of Tokyo recently performed experiments with dogs applying an oxytocin spray to their noses, and learned that the hormone has other effects besides sexual arousal.
The researchers recruited 16 adult dogs and their owners. Each dog was injected with a nose spritz; half of the dogs with oxytocin and half with salt water. As you might have guessed, the dogs sprayed with oxytocin showed more affection and bonding behavior with their owners and other dogs. Their behavior with other dogs was clearly social, not sexual.
Another interesting finding of the study, which tracked the dogs' oxytocin content in blood and urine samples every five minutes, was that oxytocin levels in the dogs increased beyond what was attributable to the dosage of oxytocin spray. The spray apparently encouraged the physiological production of even more oxytocin.
The oxytocin finding in dogs can be applied to all mammals, as we all naturally produce the chemical. Just how much we produce obviously varies. Perhaps, in the future, further experimentation might lead to applications in the fields of psychiatry and neurology.
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