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December 12, 2005
About Trust-building Hormone
Functional magnetic resonance imaging data (red) superimposed on structural MRI scans. Frightful faces triggered a dramatic reduction in amygdala activity in subjects who had sniffed oxytocin, suggesting that oxytocin mediates social fear and trust via the amygdala and related circuitry.brain chemical recently found to boost trust appears to work by reducing activity and weakening connections in fear-processing circuitry, a brain imaging study at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has discovered. Scans of the hormone oxytocin's effect on human brain function reveal that it quells the brain's fear hub, the amygdala, and its brainstem relay stations in response to fearful stimuli. The work at NIMH and a collaborating site in Gera number of suggests new approaches to treating diseases thought to involve amygdala dysfunction and social fear, such as social phobia, autism, and possibly schizophrenia, report Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, M.D., Ph.D., NIMH Genes Cognition and Psychosis Program, and his colleagues, in the December 7, 2005 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
"Studies in animals, pioneered by now NIMH director Dr. Thomas Insel, have shown that oxytocin plays a key role in complex emotional and social behaviors, such as attachment, social recognition and aggression" noted NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D. "Now, for the first time, we can literally see these same mechanisms at work in the human brain."
"The observed changes in the amygdala are exciting as they suggest that a long-acting analogue of oxytocin could have therapeutic value in disorders characterized by social avoidance," added Insel.
Inspired by Swiss researchers who last summer reported1 that oxytocin increased trust in humans, Meyer-Lindenberg and his colleagues quickly mounted a brain imaging study that would explore how this works at the level of brain circuitry. British scientists had earlier linked increased amygdala activity to decreased trustworthiness2. Having just discovered decreased amygdala activity (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/press/williamspathway.cfm) in response to social stimuli in people with a rare genetic brain disorder that rendered them overly trusting of others, Meyer-Lindenberg hypothesized that oxytocin boosts trust by suppressing the amygdala and its fear-processing networks.........
Send Teens the Message about the Link Between Drug Abuse and HIV (December 11, 2005)
Drug Abuse and HIV: Learn the Link" is the message of a new public awareness campaign announced November 29, 2005, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health. "Drug abuse prevention is HIV prevention," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "Research has shown that a significant proportion of young people are not concerned about becoming infected with HIV. In recent years, the number of young people in the United States diagnosed with AIDS rose substantially. Because drug use encourages risky behaviors that can promote HIV transmission, NIDA views drug abuse therapy as essential HIV prevention."
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