Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hormone spray improves male sensitivity, German research finds

Date:
April 29, 2010
Source:
Bonn University
Summary:
Many women have no doubt been waiting a long time for this: the neuropeptide oytocin enhances male empathy. This substance also increases sensitivity to so-called "social multipliers," such as approving or disapproving looks, according to a new study.

Many women have no doubt been waiting a long time for this: the neuropeptide oytocin enhances male empathy. This substance also increases sensitivity to so-called "social multipliers," such as approving or disapproving looks. This is revealed in a study conducted by scientists at Bonn University and the Babraham Institute of Cambridge, which has now appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience.

48 healthy males participated in the experiment. Half received an oxytocin nose spray at the start of the experiment, the other half a placebo. The researchers then showed their test subjects photos of emotionally charged situations in the form of a crying child, a girl hugging her cat, and a grieving man. The test subjects were then invited to express the depth of feeling they experienced for the persons shown.

In summary, Dr. Renι Hurlemann of Bonn University΄s Clinic for Psychiatry was able to state that "significantly higher emotional empathy levels were recorded for the oxytocin group than for the placebo group," despite the fact that the participants in the placebo group were perfectly able to provide rational interpretations of the facial expressions displayed. The administration of oxytocin simply had the effect of enhancing the ability to experience fellow-feeling. The males under test achieved levels which would normally only be expected in women. Under normal circumstances, the "weak" sex enjoys a clear advantage when it comes to the subject of "empathy."

Nasal Spray improves Learning

In a second experiment, the participants had to use their computers to complete a simple observation test. Correct answers produced an approving face on the screen, wrong ones a disapproving one. Alternatively, the feedback appeared as green (correct) or red (false) circles. "In general, learning was better when the feedback was shown in the form of faces," states Dr. Keith Kendrick of the Cambridge Babraham Institute in England. "But, once again, the oxytocin group responded clearly better to the feedback in the form of facial expression than did the placebo group."

In this connection, the so-called amygdaloid nucleus appears to play an important role. This cerebral structure, known generally to doctors as the amygdala, is involved in the emotional evaluation of situations. Certain people suffer from an extremely rare hereditary disease which progressively affects the amygdala. "We were lucky to be able to include two femals patients in our study group who were suffering this defect of the amygdala," says Hurlemann. "Both women reacted markedly worse to approving or disapproving faces in the observation test than did other women in a control group. Moreover, their emotional empathy was also affected." Hence, the researchers suspect that the amygdala could bear some form of co-responsibility for the effect of the oxytocin.

One of the effects of the hormone oxytocin is that it triggers labour pains. It also strengthens the emotional bond between a mother and her new-born child. Oxytocin is released on a large scale during an orgasm, too. This neuropeptide is also associated with feelings such as love and trust. Our study has revealed for the first time that emotional empathy is modulated by oxytocin, and that this applies similarly to learning processes with social multipliers, says Hurlemann. This hormone might thus be useful as medication for diseases such as schizophrenia, which are frequently associated with reduced social approachability and social withdrawal.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Hurlemann, A. Patin, O. A. Onur, M. X. Cohen, T. Baumgartner, S. Metzler, I. Dziobek, J. Gallinat, M. Wagner, W. Maier, K. M. Kendrick. Oxytocin Enhances Amygdala-Dependent, Socially Reinforced Learning and Emotional Empathy in Humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30 (14): 4999 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5538-09.2010

Cite This Page:

Bonn University. "Hormone spray improves male sensitivity, German research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100429083024.htm>.
Bonn University. (2010, April 29). Hormone spray improves male sensitivity, German research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100429083024.htm
Bonn University. "Hormone spray improves male sensitivity, German research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100429083024.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) — The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — A new study finds children are prescribed antibiotics twice as often as is necessary. Video provided by Newsy
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