Although this is a Bibliography, it is heavily annotated and organized to be readable. You might also be interested in the essay I wrote “Fathomless Eyes” which relates this remarkable molecule to The Blacklist:



“‘Obsessed’ is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated” – Russell Warren


Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love gene” or the “empathy gene.” There is significant research to back this up. There is also evidence that oxytocin helps men be monogamous.

Key Articles (of those in Bibliogrpahy):

⋙ 💙💙 ⋙ BioMedCentral (2012), Martin Brüne [GER]: Does the oxytocin receptor polymorphism (rs2254298) confer ‘vulnerability’ for psychopathology or ‘differential susceptibility’? Insights from evolution

⋙ 💙💙 ⋙ AnnRevPsych, Kim & Sasaki (UCSB): Cultural Neuroscience: Biology of the Mind Cultural Contexts
// 9/11/2013


( seminal paper, 💙💙 summary, 💙 interesting, ⋙ game-changer )

💙 ScienceDirect, Hurlemann & Scheele: Dissecting the role of oxytocin in the formation and loss of social relationships
// 6/1/2015, rs2254298 & rs53576; “Several theoretical frameworks have been proposed to explain the wide repertoire of social OXT effects (cf. Supplemental Table S1). On the one hand, OXT enhances the stress and anxiety-buffering effect of social support from proximal others (104) and facilitates fear extinction by strengthening the control of regulatory prefrontal areas over amygdalar fear responses (105). On the other hand, in the absence of social support OXT may increase the sensation of social stress, augment the impact of aversive information on defensive responses (i.e. the startle reflex), and induce a privileged recall of negative information by increasing neural responses in insular cortex (106 and 107). In an attempt to reconcile this conflicting evidence it has been proposed that OXT exerts a lower-level general effect on general states and dispositions (108) and that the outcome of OXT administrations is constrained by features of situations and/or individuals (109). In fact, OXTIN effects are often moderated by the subjects’ gender (110 and 111) and context-dependent factors. …

“However, empathy and interoception are closely linked (122) and improved empathy may even be the by-product of sharpened interoceptive awareness. Furthermore, it is increasingly recognized that self-processing extends to incorporate significant others (123 and 124). By increasing self-referential processing in this way, OXT may be acting to promote in-group survival. Such a mechanism could help to explain why OXT promotes parochial altruism and ethnocentrism (125 and 126) …. [w]e conclude that one common denominator across diverse social OXT effects may be that the peptide induces a self-referential processing bias which can produce various social outcomes by enabling subjects to represent emotional experiences more consciously.”

Overview: Myria: DNA SNPs: The basics of these genetic variations [SNPs]
// 12/10/2014, labeled as Basic Guide]


Part 1. Articles mentioning SNPs (genes) – More technical

(Reverse chronological)

💙 DevCognNeurosci: Social cognition, face processing, and oxytocin receptor single nucleotide polymorphisms in typically developing children

// 7/9/2014, “neither SNP in isolation is risk-conferring, but rather that the combination of rs2254298(A/G) and rs53576(G/G) confers a deleterious effect on SC [social cognition] across several neurocognitive measures.”


PsychologyToday: Is Oxytocin a Stress Response or Bonding Hormone?
// 6/13/201
4, latest research: bonding


💙💙 CulturalBio, Lou & Han: Association between oxytocin receptor gene and major depressive disorder
// 5/30/2014, more A OXTR predicts less major depressive disorder; questions the “positive spin” put on the “love gene” noting risk of psychiatric illness; poor translation, but important points:

Occurrence of "love gene" (G) by country, along with rates of Major Depression.

Occurrence of “love gene” (G) by country, along with rates of Major Depression.


 HNGN: Gene That Helps Mothers And Babies Bond May Also Aid In Facial Recognition //➔ Emory U study of families w autistic child
// 12/30/2013, “‘DNA of the oxytocin receptor had a big impact on face memory skills in the families,’ the news release reported.”
“The finding suggests oxytocin may have a lar ger role in social interactions than we previously believed…. The team believes their finding has important evolutionary implications. Rodents tend to respond to scent-based social cues while humans are more visual.”


NIH/BMCPsych: Plasma oxytocin changes and anti-obsessive response during serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment: a placebo controlled study
// 12/23/2013, “SRIs have highly variable effects on plasma oxytocin between individuals. The associations between baseline oxytocin and OCD severity and between oxytocin changes and treatment response support the notions that oxytocin is involved in OCD pathophysiology, and that the anti-obsessive effects of SRIs are partly exerted through oxytocinergic mechanisms.” /➔ however, there appear to be (at least) two groups: early onset, with higher baseline oxytocin who are less responsive, and later onset who are more responsive


EmoryU: Researchers Identify Gene that Influences the Ability to Remember Faces
// 12/23/2013


⋙ 💙💙 ⋙ AnnRevPsych, Kim &Sasaki (UCSB): Cultural Neuroscience: Biology of the Mind Cultural Contexts
// 9/11/2013

[ My take: The Kim and Sasaki review definitely deserves a read. It provides the much-needed context for much of the research in this bibliography, pointing out that the vast majority of neurobiological research on cultural norms and values relates primarily to Western (European & American) cultures. For instance, in Korea, it is considered the “sensitive” thing not to burden friends with one’s personal problems – there is no expectation of this, nor are “friends” thought of as having for such a reason. Individualism is not so much valued and it requires extra mental effort even to construe. Instead of seeing the world as “actionable” as in the West, how the part fits into the whole is more important ➔ in fact, one does not begin by assuming these parts can even be teased apart from the whole.

Tragedy, I was reading elsewhere today, by Aristotle’s formulation, requires a beginning, a middle and an end. So are all Western religions eschatological. But when you look to the East this is not so. Eschatology has been a choice – other choices were possible. Though not our personal choice now, it was someone’s long, long ago, even if that someone was a prophet who believed he was experiencing God.

The Kim and Sasaki review covers a wide scope, noting nearly all major “social mind” research of the last decade. This is a Big Deal. They argue that biology constrains culture but different cultures mold the underlying biology in different ways and over time can change the biology.

This does not leave Western parents off the hook. The underlying biology we face is imprinted on us. There are real biological factors at work and mental illnesses (autism, OCD, depression, schizophrenia, etc) are a real risk for children with the combination rs53576 and rs2254298 markers who are not raised in supportive and nurturing environments. And that is just one example.  I hope such useful information can be acted upon, even if it affects only Western culture.

Further, as Martin Brüne has noted [4/17/2012 below], the risk-taking marker and monogamy-encouraging aspects of OXTR, though they may be expressed most strongly in the West, are not likely things we would want to give up on, even if we could.

We should deeply internalize the fact that Western history and culture have been to a large extent (for better and for worse) incorporated the creations of prophets, inventors, misfits, artists, geeks and scalawags – and continue to value and channel them. They are our treasure trove.

Personally, I think the neurobiological/cultural research annotated in this document, taken as a whole, could signal an end to at least this early, naïve phase of post-modernism and I am glad to have stumbled upon it. So much that we value – democracy, individualism, risk-taking, artistic expression (including our sense of drama and tragedy, & its offshoot, irony) and even, it seems, romantic love, are the product of an ancient tradition harbored, literally, in our genes. Trans-culturalism is our future, but we also need a solid understanding of humanity’s various pasts and our differential biological underpinnings, to respect and value each accordingly. – Auri ]


Migration of humans out of Africa, by maternal haplogroup

Migration of humans out of Africa, by maternal haplogroup


NIH/EurArchPsychClinNeurosci: MAOA and MAOB polymorphisms and anger-related traits in suicidal participants and controls
// Aug 2013, “Allele frequencies of the MAOA rs909525 [“warrior gene”] were associated with suicidality (p < 0.007). Our findings show an association between genetic variation in three polymorphisms of the MAOA and anger traits in suicidal males and one replication for the functional variant rs6323 in females”


 Nature: Genome-wide association study of obsessive-compulsive disorder
// July 2013, rs6131295 just maybe, many authors;
“Although no SNPs were identified to be associated with OCD at a genome-wide significant level in the combined trio–case–control sample, a significant enrichment of methylation QTLs (P<0.001) and frontal lobe expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) (P=0.001) was observed within the top-ranked SNPs (P<0.01) from the trio–case–control analysis, suggesting these top signals may have a broad role in gene expression in the brain, and possibly in the etiology of OCD.” ❗//➔ [these studies appear to be confounded by there being two or more types of OCD that don’t share the same etiology and which manifest differently  – Auri]


Nature/TranslationalPsych: Sniffing around oxytocin: review and meta-analyses of trials in healthy and clinical groups with implications for pharmacotherapy
// 5/21/2013


⋙ 💙💙 ⋙ BioMedCentral (2012), Martin Brüne: Does the oxytocin receptor polymorphism (rs2254298) confer ‘vulnerability’ for psychopathology or ‘differential susceptibility’? Insights from evolution    4/17/2012

“[T]he same allelic variation that predisposes to a psychiatric disorder if associated with (developmentally early) environmental adversity may lead to a better-than-average functional outcome in the same domain under thriving (or favourable) environmental conditions”

“It is suggested that polymorphic variation at the oxytocin receptor gene (rs2254298) is associated with sociability, amygdala volume and differential risk for psychiatric conditions including autism, depression and anxiety disorder, depending on the quality of early environmental experiences. Seeing genetic variation at the core of developmental plasticity can explain, in contrast to the diathesis-stress perspective, why evolution by natural selection has maintained such ‘risk’ alleles in the gene pool.”


The "Love Gene" (X axis) vs Risk of Major Depression (Y axis): Example of a balanced polymorphism (see Brüner). Chart from Lou & Han.

The “Love Gene” (X axis) vs Risk of Major Depression (Y axis): Example of a balanced polymorphism (see Brüner). Chart from Lou & Han.


➔ “persons carrying the low-activity variant of the monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) enzyme are more likely to develop antisocial personality disorder under adverse environmental conditions during childhood compared to individuals endowed with the high-activity allele.” ➔ ‘maternal buffering’

➔ “[T]he diathesis-stress model, as currently conceived, falls short of explaining why many of these vulnerability genes have undergone recent positive selection in human evolution.” ❗

“Evidence from cross-cultural genetic studies suggests, for example, that the seven-repeat variant of the DRD4 gene [rs1800955] emerged some 50,000 years ago in human populations, whereas the four-repeat variant is the ancestral version of this gene. The seven-repeat allele has repetitively (though inconsistently) been associated with the personality trait ‘novelty seeking’, a human attribute that arguably may have conferred a reproductive advantage in recent human history.'”

//➔ “‘[B]alanced polymorphism’, that is, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) may exert disadvantageous effects in one domain, [but] which are compensated by advantageous effects in another domain.”

Why rs2254298? of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR). “This SNP of the OXTR was chosen for several reasons. First, research on human social behaviour suggests that natural selection has favoured the processing of social information in primates, including humans, which culminates in the detection of intentions and dispositions of conspecifics (members of the same species). This key concept of human brain evolution, referred to as the ‘social brain’ hypothesis, proposes that a major driving force that ultimately led to the evolution of large hominid brains was the increasing complexity of ancestral social environments. Oxytocin (OXT) is an evolutionarily conserved hormone that is critically involved in regulating social behaviour such as social recognition, mating, attachment and caring for offspring in virtually all mammalian species.”

(( “Somewhat inconsistent with these findings, OXT plasma concentrations in social anxiety disorder were positively correlated with symptom severity and dissatisfaction with social relationships” ))

“OXT has also been found to interact with the stress axis (particularly cortisol), and a stressful early life – for example, through emotional abuse – have been linked to reduced OXT levels in the CSF. … This finding may be particularly relevant for borderline personality disorder, because traumatization is prevalent in this disorder and leads to reduced stress-tolerance and, hence, problems in emotion regulation” //➔ [but conflicting studies; perhaps due to patients’ low self-esteem …]

“Comparative genetics suggest that a mutation replacing guanine (G) by adenine (A) has taken place at some point during human evolution. Since the A allele is absent in other primates, it can be concluded that G is ancestral to A.” ❗

“Population genetics indicate that the frequency of the A allele differs widely between ethnicities. For example, in samples of European ancestry the A allele is quite uncommon, with the vast majority of individuals being homozygous for the G allele. In Asian populations, the frequency of the A allele is much higher, and around just 40% to 50% are GG carriers.”

Two studies: “[C]arriers of rs2254298G had (at trend level) higher values of positive affect compared to A carriers, as examined using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedulem… “the presence of at least one A allele of the rs2254298 SNP was associated with a significantly higher rate of secure attachment than in GG carriers [among] non-Caucasian children….”

“Two anatomical studies have revealed that carriers who possess at least one A allele of the rs2254298 SNP exhibit greater amygdalar volumes bilaterally compared to G carriers. That is, GG genotype carriers have the smallest amygdala volume, AA carriers the largest volume, with AG genotypes lying in between.” … “A recent study reported that amygdala volume was positively correlated with the size and complexity of one’s social network.”

“[C]arriers of the AG or AA genotype of the rs2254298 SNP have been found to be more vulnerable to developing a psychiatric condition, including autism, depression and anxiety disorders, with profound differences depending on ethnic background.” [V]ariation at this polymorphic site of OXTR seems to impact the development of secure attachment [62], again with differences according to ethnicity…. In this study, carriers with the AG genotype had a greater risk of developing depressive symptoms and social anxiety than GG genotype carriers when exposed to adverse events during childhood, such as maternal depression.

“From an evolutionary point of view, it is relevant in the context of differential susceptibility that the A allele of rs2254298 emerged as a mutation at some point during human evolution, while the G allele is the ancestral variant. In addition, there are profound differences in the frequency of A alleles between human populations. The question whether or not these population differences are due to founder effects, positive selection or a selective sweep is unclear.”

“…link of amygdala volume with social complexity, one can at least not exclude positive selection at some point during human evolution…”

“Consistent with this interpretation, it is conceivable that the A allele of the rs2254298 SNP of OXTR is similarly linked with developmental plasticity as, for example, polymorphisms of the DRD4, where ethnic differences in frequency are equally large.”

“Belsky and Beaver recently reported that the individual load of such alleles can exert additive effects on behaviour. They examined five loci, namely the DRD2, DRD4, 5-HTTLPR, dopamine transporter and MAO-A, in adolescents and found that the more susceptibility alleles one possessed, the greater an individual’s self-regulation abilities hinged upon early environmental contingencies, such as the emotional bond to one’s mother, for better or for worse. In other words, the fewer susceptibility alleles a person was endowed with, the less dependent self-regulation was on individual genetics. Interestingly, this was statistically significant only in the male participants,❗which could suggest that men are perhaps more susceptible than women to environmental influences as far as their self-regulatory capacity is concerned.”


“…Under thriving conditions the same variation may have advantageous effects on an individual’s social network, hence supporting the view that all genetic variation may not unequivocally be linked to greater vulnerability but, rather, to increased plasticity.”

[My take: I am so curious about 40-50,000yrs ago, when this rift took place. I wonder; did something particular happen? This was tens of thousands of years before the pyramids, Stonehenge, even the Great Flood when the Mediterranean poured through the Dardanelles into the Black Sea at the end of the last Ice Age (per NatGeo)! Or was it just a drifting apart of groups of people followed by concentration, selection, cultural/biological cycles taking place over hundreds of generations? How did domestication and farming factor in? Who were the first humans to fall in love? – Auri ]


 NordJPsych: Associations between the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and “mind-reading” in humans–an exploratory study
// Feb 2013 “After Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, rs2228485 was associated with the number of incorrect answers when subjects evaluated male faces (P =0.000639). There were also associations between OXTR rs53576, rs2254298 and rs2228485 and other RMET dimensions according to P <0.05 (uncorrected)”


💙 PubFacts/PsychoPharmacology: The influence of oxytocin administration on responses to infant faces and potential moderation by OXTR genotype
// 12/5/2012, rs53576 SNP, “Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that is associated with increases in social affiliative behaviors, particularly toward infants.”

“Infants’ faces were more strongly preferred following oxytocin inhalation relative to placebo. When participants were separated according to genotype, this effect was only observed for participants homozygous for the rs53576G allele. Parallel effects were not seen for adults’ faces.” [wow ❗ ] emphasis added


💙💙 PsychScience (2012): Our Genes Want Us to Be Altruists
// Dec 2012, OXTR rs53576 G to A or AVPR1a RS1/RS3
“reading others’ emotions, engaging in more supportive behavior, maternal responses to children, and higher levels of self-reported prosocial temperament”
“rs53576 G is more prevalent among European Americans (among whom our data was collected) than among individuals from East Asian culture ❗


💙💙 ScienceDirect/CurrOpinNeurol: Oxytocin, Stress and Social Behavior: Neurogenetics of the Human Oxytocin System [Overview]
// Sep 2012, “Concerning prosocial behavior, Kogan et al. [4] showed that a single intronic OXTR SNP, rs53576, previously associated with autism [5] plays an important role in the regulation of prosocial behavior, with G homozygotes displaying higher prosociality in nonverbal displays, as judged by outside observers’ ratings of silent behavior. In a laboratory-based experiment which included a two-person investment game measuring trust, trustworthiness behavior, and risk behavior, Krueger et al. showed that the rs53576 GG genotype was associated with higher trust but was not related to a general increase in trustworthy or risk behaviors….

“Two studies found associations between OXTR SNPs and sensitive parenting. In particular, mothers who carried at least one OXTR rs53576 A allele showed lower levels of sensitive responsiveness to their toddlers. Interestingly, A allele carriers also showed reduced physiological reactivity to repeated infant cry sounds. Feldman et al. showed that the TT genotype of another OXTR SNP (rs1042778) was associated with less parental touch (and also with lower plasma oxytocin levels). Further association studies on OXTR rs53576 report that A allele carriers exhibited lower empathy, lower positive affect scores, and more self-reported difficulty in hearing…[cut off]

In addition to its role in social behavior and social cognition, oxytocin has been found to dampen the stress response in humans., For instance, there is a strong link between adverse childhood experience (such as sexual physical abuse, emotional neglect, or being reared in institutions) and mental health problems in adulthood. Neurobiological mechanisms underlying this relationship involve alterations of stress response systems, and also deficits in emotion processing and emotional regulation, an effect that might be mediated through oxytocin functioning. Indeed, the developing central nervous oxytocin system represents a target for the effects of early adversity.

“….This might be explained by the differential susceptibility theory recently proposed by Belsky et al.m[35], in which those most susceptible to adversity are simultaneously the most likely to benefit from supportive experiences, ❗ and supports the notion that genetic variation of OXTR influences sensitivity to social context.

“…These findings strengthen the notion that the,relationship between childhood adversity and risk for mental health problems involves oxytocin neurobiology, and that part of the outcome heterogeneity is explained by genetic variation at OXTR.” ❗


HumanNeuroscience: Oxytocin receptor genetic variation promotes human trust behavior
// 2/2/2012, The goal of the study was to investigate the relationship between OXTR rs53576 and human trust by combining a candidate gene approach genotyping for OXTR rs53576 and the administration of a laboratory-based trust game experiment. We demonstrated that a common occurring genetic variation (rs53576) in the OXTR gene is reliably associated with trust behavior rather than a general increase in trustworthy or risk behaviors.


Hormones&Behavior, Richard Ebstein: The contributions of oxytocin and vasopressin pathway genes to human behavior
// 12/21/2011


SciAm (2011): When is comfort most comforting? When you’ve got a specific Oxytocin gene!
// 12/19/2011


LiveScience: Strangers Spot People With Compassionate Genes in Seconds
// 11/14/2011 “The 23 video clips contained 10 GGs, 10 GAs and 3 AA variants. On average, only about 15 percent of Caucasians have two A oxytocin receptor gene variants. Of the 10 most trusted people, as indicated by the 119 study participants, six were GGs and four were GAs, none were AAs. Of the 10 least trusted, nine had at least one A variant and only one was GG.”


💙💙 ScienceDirect/Neuron, Ebstein & Israel et al (2010): Genetics of Human Social Behavior
// 3/25/2010, very organized and well-done, Hebrew U of Jerusalem, U of Singapore

● “[T]here is considerable evidence that the increasing complexity of the social milieu, rather than measures of environmental complexity, is the driving force of primate brain size (Byrne and Bates, 2007). Our multifaceted lives include behaviors by which we synchronize social interactions and duties, actions such as securing a mate, parenting, aggression, altruism, and recognition of rank”
● “Compared with individuals homozygous for the G allele of rs53576 (GG), individuals with one or two copies of the A allele (AG/AA) exhibited lower behavioral and dispositional empathy.”
● Experimental Economics: The “Dictator Game,” “The Trust Game” & “The Ultimatum Game”
● “Our earliest exposure to empathy is parenting. Indeed, parental care may have been the evolutionary drive behind the development of empathy, which could then be extended to nonkin”
● “Kendler (1996) found that parental warmth was heritable (0.38), but parental authoritarianism and protectiveness were not”
● “Controlling for differences in maternal education, depression, and marital discord, parents with the less efficient variants of SLC6A4 5-HTTLPR and an OXTR SNP (rs53576) showed lower levels of sensitive responsiveness”
● “Twin studies have suggested that liberal and conservative ideologies are heritable”
Whether someone votes is, in part, genetically predictable…


 PNAS, Rodrigues et al (2009): Oxytocin receptor genetic variation relates to empathy and stress reactivity in humans //➔ seminal
// 10/9/2009, “Compared with individuals homozygous for the G allele of rs53576 (GG), individuals with one or two copies of the A allele (AG/AA) exhibited lower behavioral and dispositional empathy, as measured by the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes”[!] Test and an other-oriented empathy


Science (2009): Socially Awkward? Check Your Genes rs53576, lack of the “empathy” gene may signal autism

SNPedia: rs53576
// more empathetic, employ more sensitive parenting styles


Part 2. Articles NOT mentioning SNPs (genes) – Less technical

OCD ➔ high oxytocin, opposite of autism; oxytocin in facial processing, bonding

ScienceNews: Review: Stefan Klein: ‘Survival of the Nicest’ demonstrates altruism all around
// 1/10/2015, “inner altruism crops up consistently even at the expense of personal safety or profit. He maintains that humans are innately driven to cooperate, right down to the oxytocin that pours into the bloodstream when people witness acts of generosity. Oxytocin in turn promotes trust and good will, essential ingredients for sharing. We also come equipped with mirror neurons, brain cells that allow us to grasp and emulate others’ emotions, laying the foundation for group responses aimed at the greater good.”


TheAtlantic: What Happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother
// 1/8/2015, “From joy and attachment to anxiety and protectiveness, mothering behavior begins with biochemical reactions.” – subtitle

“The artist Sarah Walker once told me that becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live. I always liked Walker’s description because it’s more precise than the shorthand most people use for life with a newborn: ‘Everything changes.'”

“Activity increases in regions that control empathy, anxiety, and social interaction. On the most basic level, these changes, prompted by a flood of hormones during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, help attract a new mother to her baby. In other words, those maternal feelings of overwhelming love, fierce protectiveness, and constant worry begin with reactions in the brain.”

“‘This is what we call an aspect of almost the obsessive compulsive behaviors during the very first few months after the baby’s arrival,’ maternal brain researcher Pilyoung Kim told me.”

“Much of what happens in a new mother’s amygdala has to do with the hormones flowing to it. The region has a high concentration of receptors for hormones like oxytocin, which surge during pregnancy.”

Oxytocin also increases as women look at their babies, or hear their babies’ coos and cries, or snuggle with their babies.”

“What scientists do know, Feldman says, is that becoming a parent looks—at least in the brain—a lot like falling in love. Which helps explain how many new parents describe feeling when they meet their newborns…. / Feldman said. “We showed that during the first months of ‘falling in love’ some similar changes occur between romantic partners.”

“The greatest brain changes occur with a mother’s first child, though it’s not clear whether a mother’s brain ever goes back to what it was like before childbirth, several neurologists told me.”

“Men show similar brain changes when they’re deeply involved in caregiving. Oxytocin does not seem to drive nurturing behavior in men the way it does in women, Feldman and other researchers found in a study last year. Instead, a man’s parental brain is supported by a socio-cognitive network that develops in the brain of both sexes later in life, whereas women appear to have evolved to have a ‘brain-hormone-behavior constellation’ that’s automatically primed for mothering.”

“…evolution created other pathways for adaptation to the parental role in human fathers, and these alternative pathways come with practice, attunement, and day-by-day caregiving.”


NYT, Mandy Len Catron: To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This
// 1/9/2015, “Last summer, I applied [psychologist Arthur Aron’s] technique in my own life, which is how I found myself standing on a bridge at midnight, staring into a man’s eyes for exactly four minutes.”

“I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.

“I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.

“So it was with the eye, which is not a window to anything but a rather clump of very useful cells. The sentiment associated with the eye fell away and I was struck by its astounding biological reality: the spherical nature of the eyeball, the visible musculature of the iris and the smooth wet glass of the cornea. It was strange and exquisite.”

“But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.”
“You’re probably wondering if he and I fell in love. Well, we did.”


ScienceDirect: Distraction from cognitive processing by emotional pictures: Preliminary evidence for an association with interactions between psychopathy-related traits in a non-clinical sample
// (embargoed until) Mar 2015, those w psychopathic traits are less distracted //-> 12/15/2014


SciAm: The Face Is an Entryway to the Self #TheBlacklist
// 12/14/2014


DoctorTipster: Newly Discovered Brain Cells Explain a Prosocial Effect of Oxytocin in Mice newly id’d interneurons
// 11/25/2014


ScienceDaily: Oxytocin helps to better overcome fear University of Bonn study
// 11/15/2014


SciAm: Can’t Take My Eyes off You—Your Face, That Is The direction of your gaze when looking at someone offers an unconscious, automatic giveaway of whether your initial reaction is romance or sex
// 9/6/2014


💙 HeadlineScienceNow: Oxytocin: More Than a Love Potion
// 6/27/2014, “With the interactions of oxytocin, dopamine, norepinephrine, vasopressin, and endorphins, the body reacts to “love” almost like an addiction, inducing elation, energy, sleeplessness, craving, loss of appetite, and focused attention (a.k.a., “obsession”).”
“Other studies have indicated doses of oxytocin increase levels of eye contact, which has been found to be key for intimate emotional communication and bonds…. A particularly interesting study suggests that in addition to promoting eye-to-eye contact and forming positive social memories, oxytocin also inhibits negative reactions to social information, such as anxiety.”


⋙ FrontiersInHumanNeuroscience: Ed Intro to Topic: The Neural Underpinnings of Vicarious Experience
// Jun 2014, includes oxytocin, differs by empathy vs autism & psychopathy, mother-child bonding, oxytocin admin & visual orientation (self v others), impact of prior painless... [I have not been able to access online]


NYMag: Is It Possible to Create an Anti-Love Drug?
// “Research has found, for example, that people in love are similar to those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder — not only in terms of their obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior, but also the low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in their blood. So in a sense, love may be a special case of addiction — but here, the object of obsession isn’t a roulette wheel or heroin, but another human being.”
// 5/19/2014


💙💙 SciRP, AdvancesInAthropology: Love Is the Cause of Human Evolution
// May 2014 🔷 [ note to self: read closely]


TheScientist: The so-called “love hormone” can make people more dishonest when it serves the interests of their group. not “the moral hormone”
// 3/31/2014, “shifts people’s focus from themselves to their group or tribe”


TechReview: Facebook Creates Software That Matches Faces Almost as Well as You Do
// 3/17/2014


NewScientist: Cure for love: Chemical cures for the lovesick
// 2/12/2014, “Ever found yourself obsessing over the tiniest details of a person? Their hair, say, or the number of kisses in a text? This tunnel vision resembles some of the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, so Donatella Marazziti at the University of Pisa in Italy, compared the brains of 20 people in the first throes of love with those of 20 people with OCD.

“Both groups had unusually low levels of a protein that transports serotonin – a hormone involved in regulating mood – around the brain. Retesting the lovers a year later revealed that their serotonin levels had increased, and that they no longer reported an obsessive focus on their partners.

“Drugs that boost serotonin can offer relief to people with OCD, so it’s reasonable to think that they could also help to dampen lustful feelings. These drugs include antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are known to blunt extreme emotions and make it harder to form romantic bonds. This is an unwanted side effect for people with depression, but for those seeking to detach from someone, it could be welcome.”


ScienceDaily: Oxytocin leads to monogamy
// 11/25/2013 University of Bonn


MedNewsToday: High oxytocin levels ‘trigger oversensitivity to emotions of others’
// 1/22/2014


NIH[.]gov: Oxytocin Affects Facial Recognition lower ability in families with autism; rs237887
// 1/13/2014


💙💙 AnnRevOfPsych: Oxytocin Pathways and the Evolution of Human Behavior
// Jan 2014, “…hypothesis that oxytocin pathways … are at the center of physiological and genetic systems that permitted the evolution of the human nervous system and allowed the expression of contemporary human sociality.… [O]xytocin acts to allow the high levels of social sensitivity and attunement necessary for human sociality and for rearing a human child.”

“I propose that in humans our large cortex, high levels of social cognition, and complex social interactions and social bonds could not have evolved without the physiological and behavioral functions of oxytocin.”

“The initial stages of falling in love with a new partner may include excitement and arousal. Oxytocin has been implicated in social attention and eye gaze, which often are critical in early stages of relationship formation. The initial stages in a passionate relationship, as well as the experience of sexual arousal and orgasm, could draw upon the apparent capacity of oxytocin, and presumably also vasopressin, to permit increased sympathetic arousal….”

“Inherent in most definitions of love are social communication, feelings of empathy, and a sense of reciprocal trust.… “Whether human social behavior and attachments can be formed in the absence of oxytocin or vasopressin is not known.”

“Creating a physiological and anatomical environment that allowed the extreme encephalization [growth in brain size] seen in humans appears to have drawn on several of the novel properties of oxytocin.”
“… not surprising that functions of the face, such as facial emotions and eye gaze, can be influenced by oxytocin.”

“Oxytocin encourages encephalization and cognition indirectly through social behavior. Neuroendocrine events, including those that were dependent on oxytocin, apparently support the prolongation of infant care and slow maturation of the human nervous system. This provides humans with an extended period for social learning, the development of an extended network of selective relationships, and cultural intelligence.”


NIH/Psychiatry: Plasma oxytocin changes and anti-obsessive response during serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment: a placebo controlled study
// 12/23/2013


MedicalDaily: Love Hormone May Help Men Stay Monogamous: How Oxytocin Renews Attraction To A Partner And Not A Stranger
// 11/27/2013
↥ ↧
MedNewsToday: Oxytocin: The monogamy hormone?
// 11/26/2013, “Oxytocin has long been deemed “the love hormone,” after its important role in social bonding has been documented. But now, researchers have performed a new experiment that suggests oxytocin stimulates the reward center in the male brain, increasing partner attractiveness and strengthening monogamy”
↥ ↧
 PNAS: Oxytocin enhances brain reward system responses in men viewing the face of their female partner
// 11/6/2013, seminal [!] article, viewing photos stdy, administered, may enhance monogamy


PsychCentral: Oxytocin Fuels Distinction of Self & Others
// 9/30/2013, “New research finds that oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone” could also make us more accepting of other people”


FuturePundit: Oxytocin Speeds Up Facial Recognition and Makes Other Faces Look More Pleasant
// 9/29/2013


NIH/FrontNeurosci: A paradoxical association of an oxytocin receptor gene polymorphism: early-life adversity and vulnerability to depression
// 7/23/2013


BrainResearch: Oxytocin eliminates the own-race bias in face recognition [pdf]
// 7/8/2013


NIH/PsychPharm: Oxytocin improves specific recognition of positive facial expressions
// 4/10/2013, “RESULTS: Oxytocin significantly and specifically improved the recognition of happy facial expressions; no significant differences in recognition of other expression were found. The improvement was not associated with gender, response biases, or changes in mood, and it was most pronounced for subtle expressions”


💙💙 HarvardPsychReview: The Role of Oxytocin in Psychiatric Disorders: A Review of Biological & Therapeutic Research Findings
// 3/23/2013


SciAm: Be Mine Forever: Oxytocin May Help Build Long-Lasting Love
// 2/12/2013, “The hormone oxytocin increases empathy and communication, key to sustaining a relationship between mates”
“The first time Ditzen and her colleagues did this experiment they found that for both men and women oxytocin improved communication and lowered cortisol, a stress hormone. But in a recent study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Ditzen and her colleagues measured salivary alpha-amylase (sAA)—an enzyme tied specifically to social stress—and found that men and women responded differently. Women who got oxytocin showed a decrease in sAA whereas men showed an increase and reported feeling more intense emotions. Counterintuitively, these men were also better at communication during conflict: they smiled more, had more eye-contact and were more open about their feelings. These behaviors are essential for peaceful conflict resolution.”


💙 PsychologyToday: The 7 Neurochemicals of Happiness
// 1/29/2012
1. Endocannabinoids: “The Bliss Molecule”
2. Dopamine: “The Reward Molecule”
3. Oxytocin: “The Bonding Molecule”
4. Endorphin: “The Pain-Killing Molecule”
5. GABA: “The Anti-Anxiety Molecule”
6. Serotonin: “The Confidence Molecule”, lack of rejection sensitivity
7. Adrenaline: “The Energy Molecule”


💙💙 ForeverAgeless/HRT: Oxytocin
// 2013 (copyright), comprehensive summary


TheAtlantic: Study: Oxytocin (‘the Love Hormone’) Makes Men in Relationships Want to Stay Away From Other Women
// 11/14/2012
↥ ↧
 JNeuroSci: Oxytocin Modulates Social Distance between Males and Females for men in relationships
// 11/14/2012, seminal [!] article: “comfortable distance” study


EvoAnth: Are humans supposed to be monogamous?
// 6/20/2012: 65% of cultures/societies allow polygamy (of which 85% polygyny); hormones – serotonin (happiness) decreases in early stages of love, as is case w OCD:
“‘Indeed, early stages of romantic love show similarities to OCD, including symptoms of anxiety, stress, and obtrusive thinking….although we should keep in mind that OCD is a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version IV (DSM-IV) disorder and the early stage of romantic love is not'” -> Wikipedia
“Oxytocin = ‘cuddle hormone'”, dopamine is the brain’s reward system
// ➔ [done prior to ground-breaking monogamy research]


💙💙  ScienceDaily: Oxytocin Helps People Read Minds //➔ clear explanation
// 7/21/2012, “We found that oxytocin intensified test subjects’ awareness of the emotions present in the photos. Faces expressing anger stood out as angrier and less happy, and correspondingly, faces expressing happiness were happier.”
“It turns out that those with the lowest aptitude for judging emotional expression properly – that is, those with the poorest scores during the saltwater round – were the ones who showed the greatest improvement using oxytocin. This is really fascinating; the people who need it the most are thus the ones who get the most out of using the hormone”


io9: 10 Reasons Why Oxytocin Is The Most Amazing Molecule In The World
// 7/12/2012


BrainResearch: Oxytocin can impair memory for social and non-social visual objects [pdf]


ABCScience: A kiss is just a kiss. Or is it?
// 2/13/2012, “When that first passionate kiss brings love into our world the high levels of serotonin [sic] mimic those associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
[oxytocin is high, serotonin low in OCD]


Nature: Oxytocin attenuates feelings of hostility depending on emotional context and individuals’ characteristics
// 1/18/2012, [prior to id of those w GG]


CurrentPsychReviews [AU]: Are We There Yet? The Clinical Potential of Intranasal Oxytocin in Psychiatry
// 2012, “In rats, oxytocin administration has been found to in- crease how much the animal grooms itself . These grooming behaviours have in turn been compared to compul- sive behaviours in OCD, and it is reasonable to hypothesise that some compulsive behaviours in OCD are as- sociated with excessive oxytocin – as compared to the deficient oxytocin observed in other psychiatric conditions. In support of this notion, studies measuring baseline oxytocin levels have found that OCD patients have elevated CSF levels relative to healthy adults.”

“Despite previous suggestions for the use of oxytocin in treating OCD, there is currently little theoretical basis and no scientific evidence that oxytocin can alleviate the symptoms of OCD. Conversely, if excessive oxytocin is indeed expressed in OCD symptoms, then treatment reducing oxytocin levels (e.g., administration of an oxytocin antagonist) may meet with better success.”


💙  SocialCognitive&AffectiveNeuroSci: Oxytocin facilitates accurate perception of competition in men and kinship in women
// 10/26/2011, “[T]he gender-specific findings reported here may point to some biosocial differences in the effect of OT which may be expressed in women’s tendency for communal and familial social behavior as opposed to men’s tendency for competitive social behavior.”

“The administration of OT in humans has been associated with a variety of complex social behaviors, including the facilitation of processing non-verbal social stimuli (Guastella et al., 2008; Rimmele et al., 2009; Fischer-Shofty et al., 2010) and social behaviors such as empathy (Domes et al., 2007), generosity (Zak et al., 2007) and eye gaze detection (Guastella et al., 2008).”

“Whereas women focus more on maintaining supportive social networks for the protection of their offspring (Taylor et al., 2000; Silk, 2007), men invest their resources in inter-group aggression, which may enhance mating opportunities (Van Vugt et al., 2007).” “Tend-and-befriend” vs “fight-or-flight.” … In men, OT has been assc’d w “with aggressive responses and derogation of out-group members (De Dreu et al., 2011).”


💙💙 NIH/IndJEnd&Met : The orgasmic history of oxytocin: Love, lust, and labor
// Sep 2011, “Oxytocin is “released in large amounts during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples. It is a facilitator for childbirth and breastfeeding. However, recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, bonding, and maternal behaviors. This small nine amino acid peptide is now believed to be involved in a wide variety of physiological and pathological functions such as sexual activity, penile erection, ejaculation, pregnancy, uterine contraction, milk ejection, maternal behavior, social bonding, stress and probably many more, which makes oxytocin and its receptor potential candidates as targets for drug therapy.”


WSJ: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids?
// 1/8/2011, //➔ [no]


ScienceDirect/Neuron, Epstein et al: The Genetics of Human Social Behavior
// 3/25/2010, chart on heritability of social characteristics

Heritability of social characteristics

Heritability of social characteristics


PacificStandard: Asian-American Parenting and Academic Success
// 12/13/2010


NIH[.]gov/Psychneuroendocrinology: Effects of intranasal oxytocin on emotional face processing in women
// Jan 2010, positive response at odds with results for men – follow-up needed
“Group analysis revealed that the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal was enhanced in the left amygdala, the fusiform gyrus and the superior temporal gyrus in response to fearful faces and in the inferior frontal gyrus in response to angry and happy faces following OXT treatment. This effect was independent of fixation pattern to specific sections of the facial stimuli as revealed by eye tracking and independent of basal plasma levels of OXT, estradiol, and progesterone. The results are at odds with the previously reported effects found in men. Future studies should include both sexes to determine a possible sexual dimorphism in the neural effects of OXT, considering gonadal steroids and OXT receptor affinity.”


OtherEndOfTheLeash: Your Oxytocin Increases When Your Dog Looks at You especially if happy w your dog
// 10/10/2009


💙💙 HarvardRevPsych: The Peptide That Binds: A Systematic Review of Oxytocin and its Prosocial Effects in Humans Kai MacDonald, MD, and Tina Marie MacDonald, RN
// 7/27/2009, “Oxytocin is a neuropeptide involved in a wide variety of social behaviors in diverse species”; short discussion of the evolutionary history of the oxytocin system

“[E]ffects include alterations in social decision making, processing of social stimuli, certain uniquely social behaviors (e.g., eye contact), and social memory. Oxytocin’s prosocial influence is then framed by an evolutionary perspective on its role in mammalian social bonding and attachment.”

“In humans, plasma levels of oxytocin have been related to a variety of conditions and disease states, including warm contact with a partner, gaps in social relationships, trust and trustworthiness, mental stressors, anxiety and hormonal responses, male and female sexual responses, mood disorders, schizophrenia and autism.”
“Notably, oxytocin’s dampening effect on amygdala activity was more prominent when faces displayed a more socially salient, direct (vs. averted) gaze.”

⋙ “Oxytocin is a neuropeptide involved in a wide variety of social behaviors in diverse species. Recent research on its effects in humans has generated an arresting picture of its role in the dynamic function of the social brain. This review presents a broad overview of this uniquely social peptide, with a particular focus on extant studies of its effects in humans. After a short discussion of the evolutionary history of the oxytocin system, critical aspects of its peripheral and central physiology, and several salient technical issues surrounding human oxytocin research, a systematic review of studies of the effects of intranasal oxytocin in humans is presented. These effects include alterations in social decision making, processing of social stimuli, certain uniquely social behaviors (e.g., eye contact), and social memory. Oxytocin’s prosocial influence is then framed by an evolutionary perspective on its role in mammalian social bonding and attachment.”


💙💙 PsychNews: Love, obsession, and chemistry
// 5/12/2009, “What is love, and why does it exist? Chemical similarities have been found linking love to OCD and depression. Anthropologist Helen Fisher PhD of Rutgers University has been doing research on love, which she has divided into three chemically separate states. Fisher says that lust is driven by androgens and estrogen, while romantic love, characterized by intensely emotional mood swings and obsessive craving, is driven by high dopamine and norepinephrine levels, along with low serotonin. The third state, of stable attachment, is driven by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.”

1. Lust: androgens & estrogen
2. Romantic love: dopamine, estrogen, low serotonin
3. Stable attachment: oxytocin & vasopressin

“Interestingly, the low serotonin levels found in romantic love are similar to the brain states of people with OCD.”
“A plausible explanation is that OCD and love are similarly obsessive, driving urges….”

“Faces are a special category of visual stimuli uniquely involved with social approach, trust, and activity in many areas of the social brain.” … “Domes and colleagues demonstrated that intranasal oxytocin reduced activity in the right amygdala, ” … “less likely to classify ambiguous facial emotions (surprise, neutral) as negative (sad or disgusting).” …

“Visual attention to the eye region of faces—an important part of first contact with other persons—is disordered in both social anxiety and autism.”… “[T]the visual processing of faces is a multistep process that involves both automatic, bottom-up attention (sensitive to the influence of the amygdala) and more elaborate, conceptually driven, top-down processing (mediated by pre-frontal structures).” … “A second experiment in this area used advanced eye-tracking technology and demonstrated that oxytocin- treated males made an increased number of fixation and directed more total gaze time toward the information-rich eye region of faces than placebo participants,”

“After an initial, reflexive stage of visual attention—in which we rapidly assess trust, among other qualities—we further process visual information in others’ faces to discern their motives and intentions. This crucial aspect of social cognition, which has been called mentalizing, allows us to “read the mind” of another person.”
“Finally, though faces and eyes are the most salient social stimuli, oxytocin also demonstrates effects on the processing of certain classes of words that may uniquely affect the social brain.”

“Human attachment and social memory is largely visual…”

“As such, evolutionary models conceptualize prosocial behavior and social bonds as the result of a dynamic balance between two “safety” systems: (1) an older, “defensive,” threat-sensitive system that motivates fear, risk aversion, distrust, and social distance; and (2) innately rewarding,’but more recently evolved, attachment circuits that promote a felt sense of safety via social closeness, trust, and care for others. … Clearly, a central node of the older ‘defensive’ safety system is the amygdala, which organizes hormonal, behavioral, and perceptual reactions to threat, puts a brake on social approach,and, as reviewed above, demonstrates a particular sensitivity to oxytocin.” Oxytocin [is] a central component of an oft neglected ‘calm and connection system,’ which provides homeostasis for fight-or-flight drives and also supports beneficial social connections by biasing sensory, hormonal, autonomic, emotional, and motor systems toward calm, receptive social connection — the prototype being the bond between infant and nursing mother.”
//➔ [actually, it seems GG is the older form]


NewScientist: Pet dogs rival humans for emotional satisfaction
// 1/14/2009, “Kikusui thinks eye contact is a good proxy for the bond between owner and dog. Long-gaze owners tended to rate their relationship with their pet as more satisfying than short-gaze owners. And even when instructed to avoid eye contact during the control session, these owners experienced a mild boost in oxytocin.”


ScienceDirect/BioPsych: Oxytocin Increases Gaze to the Eye Region of Human Faces
// 1/1/2008, “Oxytocin increases gaze specifically toward the eye region of human faces. This may be one mechanism by which oxytocin enhances emotion recognition, interpersonal communication, and social approach behavior in humans. Findings suggest a possible role for oxytocin in the treatment of disorders characterized by eye-gaze avoidance and facial processing deficits” //➔ medieval ~ ‘love enters through the eyes’


ScienceDaily: Empathy and Oxytocin Lead to Greater Generosity
// 8/7/2007


PerspectivesInBio&MedMartin Brüne: The Evolutionary Psychology of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: the role of cognitive metarepresentation
// Summer 2006


ScienceDirect: To what extent are emotional visual stimuli processed without attention and awareness?
// 2005, large inter-subject differences in sensitivity to the detection of masked fearful face


Nature: NeurPsychPharma: Oxytocin Infusion Reduces Repetitive Behaviors in Adults with Autistic and Asperger’s Disorders
// 6/24/2002


PNAS: Neural processing of emotional faces requires attention
// 2001, [except in psychopaths, SciDirect, Mar 2015 (sic)]


NIH/PsychMed: Alteration of the platelet serotonin transporter in romantic love
// May 1999, The main finding of the present study is that subjects who were in the early romantic phase of a love relationship were not different from OCD patients in terms of the density of the platelet 5-HT transporter, which proved to be significantly lower than in the normal controls. This would suggest common neurochemical changes involving the 5-HT system, linked to psychological dimensions shared by the two conditions, perhaps at an ideational level.


 NIH/JAMA: Elevated Cerebrospinal Fluid Levels of Oxytocin in Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
// 10/1/1994, seminal, “In contrast to previous reports, we report similar concentrations of arginine vasopressin for all three groups but increased oxytocin levels in patients with OCD. Remarkably, this increase was observed only in a subset of patients with OCD (n = 22) independently identified as being without a personal or family history of tic disorders (P = .0003). In this subgroup of patients, the CSF oxytocin level was correlated with current severity of OCD (n = 19, r = .47, P < .05)”

//➔ The presence/absence of tics seems to differentiate two types of OCD. CSF oxytocin is only elevated in those w/o tics.


Anthropology Supplement

NYT : DNA Deciphers Roots of Modern Europeans
// 6/10/2015, “The first were hunter-gatherers who arrived some 45,000 years ago in Europe. Then came farmers who arrived from the Near East about 8,000 years ago”
● “Finally, a group of nomadic sheepherders from western Russia called the Yamnaya arrived about 4,500 years ago. The authors of the new studies also suggest that the Yamnaya language may have given rise to many of the languages spoken in Europe today.
● “Archaeologists have long known that farming practices spread into Europe at the time from Turkey. But the new evidence shows that it wasn’t just the ideas that spread — the farmers did, too.
● “‘It’s an amazing cultural process,’ said David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who led the university’s team. ‘You have groups which are as genetically distinct as Europeans and East Asians. And they’re living side by side for thousands of years.’

NatGeo: The First Artists
// Jan 2015

Science: Three-part ancestry for Europeans
// 9/5/2014

Dkos: Ancient Ireland: The Druids
// 9/1/2013

Palomar: Early Modern Human Culture
// ©1999-2013

NIH/Anat: The evolution of human artistic creativity
// Feb 2010

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