Oxytocin – an emotional “amplifier”

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This neurotransmitter is all about human connection and bonding.

It’s released any time we are close to others, and because it feels so good, it has encouraged our species to be pro-social and empathetic.

Oxytocin has found to be high in pregnant women during and after labor (the chemical stimulates uterine contractions as well as breastfeeding) and in men and women during orgasm.

Interestingly, it’s low in teenagers and those living isolated lifestyles.

This “love hormone,” which is released any time we bond, cuddle, or have sex, is associated with better mental health, monogamy, more satisfying relationships, and characteristics like loyalty and trustworthiness.

It’s not as simple as that, though.

Oxytocin is sometimes thought of as an emotional “amplifier”—while it increases sociability to those we trust, it may actually increase feelings of distrust to those not in our inner circle.

And though the chemical can sharpen our social memories, a 2010 PNAS study found that it just as readily strengthened negative social memories as pleasant ones (Bartz et al., Effects of Oxytocin on Recollections of Maternal Care).

In this experiment, men were given oxytocin, then asked to write about their mothers.

Those with positive memories wrote positively, but those with dysfunctional ones only described more vividly that dysfunction.

Clearly, it’s not a question of whether a neurotransmitter is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.

Rather it’s about finding an optimal level of oxytocin.

Follow your gut a little more, take time to get to know people, and have a little faith in the good intentions of others.

Finally, stop thinking in terms of transactions and what you can get from people (or what they can get from you!) and think in terms of service, relationships, and interdependence.

Consciously and deliberately cultivating trust this way navigates a path between too little oxytocin and too much, and finds that sweet spot of connection and contentment.

#BrainMechanic #CognitiveFitness #ThinkSmarter #Communicate #Hollins #Neurobiology #Neuroplasticity #Oxytocin #PeakMentalPerformance #Neurogrowth #PeterHollins #RussellNewton #NewtonMG #PeterHollins #TheScienceofSelf #TheBrainMechanic

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Categories: Voice over Work