Maria Konnikova on oxytocin

21 Feb

On this podcast, Maria Konnikova examines claims made about oxytocin.  Her comments are similar to those in this Scientific American piece:

“It is not all marketing and placebos, however. A substantive body of research suggests that oxytocin—and a related molecule called vasopressin—promote various types of social behavior. Participants in one study that involved playing an investment game forked over more money to an investment banker after taking a sniff. Oxytocin levels rose in a study of new parents as they became accustomed to living with their newborns. And trials are now under way to assess whether an oxytocin spray may help allay some of the social deficits of young children diagnosed with autism.

Oxytocin has another side to it that makes it something less than Love Potion No. 9. Recent research shows that it can intensify a negative memory of a social experience—such as the recollection of your boss yelling in your face in front of co-workers. It may even increase the likelihood of aggression and violence toward others who are not part of your social group.”

Konnikova does make one error, she attributes work done by Harry Harlow to Edward Tolman.


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