There is currently substantial evidence indicating that oxytocin, a hypothalamus neuropeptide, modulates many forms of social behaviour and cognition in both human and non-human animals. The vast majority of animal research, however, has concentrated on maternal attachment and reproductive pair-bonds. In order to understand the neurochemical foundations of peaceful associations and sociality, oxytocin’s contribution to other types of social bonds, as well as to individual variation in sociality, should also be explored. Here, we summarise the most current studies that have investigated oxytocin’s role in regulating stable peaceful associations not directly related to mating. We also provide an overview on oxytocin’s role in support of specific social structures, and propose a novel research approach to evaluate the relationship between individual variation in social tendencies and variation in the oxytociergic system. We conclude by discussing avenues of future investigation in the biological substrates of sociality.
Oxytocin increases eye contact during a real-time, naturalistic social interaction in males with and without autism. —
Transl. Psychol.5: e507.
Differential effects of oxytocin on agency and communion for anxiously and avoidantly attached individuals. —
Oxytocin and vasopressin receptor distributions in a solitary and a social species of tuco-tuco (Ctenomys haigi and Ctenomys sociabilis). —
J. Comp. Neurol.507:
Urinary oxytocin and social bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees. —
Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B: Biol. Sci.280: 20122765.
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The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates parochial altruism in intergroup conflict among humans. —
The effect of oxytocin on cooperation in a prisoner’s dilemma depends on the social context and a person’s social value orientation. —
Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosci. DOI:10.1093/scan/nst040.
Influence of a “warm touch” support enhancement intervention among married couples on ambulatory blood pressure, oxytocin, alpha amylase, and cortisol. —
Telencephalic binding sites for oxytocin and social organization: a comparative study of eusocial naked mole-rats and solitary cape mole-rats. —
J. Comp. Neurol.518:
Oxytocin modulates neural circuitry for social cognition and fear in humans. —
Oxytocin attenuates amygdala reactivity to fear in generalized social anxiety disorder. —
Social networks and social complexity in female-bonded primates. — In:
Social brain distributed mind (
DunbarR.I.M.GambleC.GowlettJ.A. eds). Oxford University PressOxford p.
The neuropeptide oxytocin facilitates pro-social behavior and prevents social avoidance in rats and mice. —
Experimental peripheral administration of oxytocin elevates a suite of cooperative behaviours in a wild social mammal. —
Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B: Biol. Sci.278:
Dynamics of social nesting in overwintering meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus): possible consequences for population cycling. —
Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.15:
Oxytocin, vasopressin and atrial natriuretic peptide control body fluid homeostasis by action on their receptors in brain, cardiovascular system and kidney. —
Progr. Brain Res.139:
Brain oxytocin inhibits basal and stress-induced activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in male and female rats: partial action within the paraventricular nucleus. —
OlffM.FrijlingJ.L.KubzanskyL.D.BradleyB.EllenbogenM.A.CardosoC.BartzJ.A.YeeJ.R.van ZuidenM. (2013).
The role of oxytocin in social bonding, stress regulation and mental health: an update on the moderating effects of context and interindividual differences. —
Anxiolytic-like activity of oxytocin in male mice: behavioral and autonomic evidence, therapeutic implications. —
Differing concentrations of corticotropin-releasing factor and oxytocin in the cerebrospinal fluid of bonnet and pigtail macaques. —
The impact of a single administration of intranasal oxytocin on the recognition of basic emotions in humans: a meta-analysis. —
Early involvement in friendships predicts later plasma concentrations of oxytocin and vasopressin in juvenile rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). —
Front. Behav. Neurosci.8: 295.
Food sharing is linked to urinary oxytocin levels and bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees. —
Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B: Biol. Sci.281: 20133096.