Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Suckling Infants Trigger Surges Of Trust Hormone In Mothers' Brains

Date:
July 22, 2008
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Researchers have for the first time been able to show exactly how, when a baby suckles at a mother's breast, it starts a chain of events that leads to surges of the "trust" hormone oxytocin being released in their mothers brains.

When a baby suckles at a mother's breast, it starts a chain of events that leads to surges of the "trust" hormone oxytocin being released in their mothers brains.
Credit: iStockphoto/Nikolay Suslov

Researchers from the University of Warwick, in collaboration with other universities and institutes in Edinburgh, France and Italy, have for the first time been able to show exactly how, when a baby suckles at a mother's breast, it starts a chain of events that leads to surges of the "trust" hormone oxytocin being released in their mothers brains.

The study focuses on the role of oxytocin, a very important hormone recently found be involved in the enhancement of "trust" and love in humans and animals. Oxytocin has long been known to be the trigger that, when released into the blood, causes milk to be let down from the mammary gland. When oxytocin is released within the brain, it also helps to strengthen the bond between mother and child, but to have these effects, a very large amount must be released abruptly to cause a wave of the hormone that can spread through the brain.

What was not known before this study is exactly how the few thousand neurones, which are specialized to release oxytocin, are marshalled together to produce a sufficiently intense burst of activity to do all of that. In fact, even when a child is not suckling these neurons are continually producing oxytocin but in small amounts and in a much more uncoordinated way. Previous studies on individual neurons have found no obvious way of modifying their behaviour to get the coordinated response needed to produce the large, regular pulses of oxytocin that are needed.

Now this University of Warwick led team of experimental neuroscientists and theoreticians have found a likely answer. The neuroscientists have found that in response to suckling the neurons start releasing oxytocin from their "dendrites" as well as from their nerve endings -- this was unexpected because dendrites are usually thought as the part of a neurone which receive, rather than transmit information.

The dendrites usually create a weak network of connections between neurons. However the researchers have now shown that the release of oxytocin from the dendrites allows a massive increase in communication between the neurons. This co-ordinates a "swarm" of oxytocin factories, producing massive intense bursts of oxytocin release at intervals of around 5 minutes or so.

The synchronous activation of the few thousand oxytocin producing neurons is an example of "emergent" process. It develops in just the same way as a flock of birds or insects - closely coordinated action developing without a single leader.

University of Warwick computational biology researcher Professor Jianfeng Feng said: "We knew that these pulses arise because, during suckling, oxytocin neurons fire together in dramatic synchronized bursts. But exactly how these bursts arise has been a major problem that has until now eluded explanation. This research has allowed us to incorporate all the latest research in a large computational model of the whole population of oxytocin cells."

"In this model we have shown that the dendritic interactions are enhanced enough to trigger a massive positive-feedback on activity. The model gives us a possible explanation of an important event in the brain that could be used to study and explain many other similar brain activities."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rossoni et al. Emergent Synchronous Bursting of Oxytocin Neuronal Network. PLoS Computational Biology, 2008; 4 (7): e1000123 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000123

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Suckling Infants Trigger Surges Of Trust Hormone In Mothers' Brains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717201854.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2008, July 22). Suckling Infants Trigger Surges Of Trust Hormone In Mothers' Brains. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717201854.htm
University of Warwick. "Suckling Infants Trigger Surges Of Trust Hormone In Mothers' Brains." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717201854.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins