Oxytocin (also known as the love hormone) plays an important function in the management of maternal and social behavior. In the last few years, the brain’s oxytocin system has been studied as it is believed to present a key to novel treatments for several mental health disorders, like autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, and postpartum depression. The new research by a biologist from LSU (Louisiana State University) along with his students discovered a set of cells gets triggered by oxytocin in one of the female mouse brain’s region that is absent in the same area in male mouse brains. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Ryoichi Teruyama—Associate Professor at the LSU—said, “Scientists earlier tried to find out the difference amid the oxytocin system of females and males, but nobody successfully discovered conclusive clue until now. But our study was successful. The receptor cells of oxytocin in the brain region were believed to be involved in the management of maternal behavior. But the appearance of oxytocin receptors in these cells is seen only when estrogen is also present. This suggests these cells are engaged in causing maternal behavior. Additionally, it also confirms that there is an interrelation between postpartum depression and modified expression of oxytocin receptors.
Similarly, the LSU was in news for conducting a pioneering study that might aid us in understanding the dopamine’s function in stress resilience in humans by analyzing wild songbirds. This research further can help in increased prevention and finding new methods of stress-related disorders. In the brain, dopamine is responsible for learning and memory. Assistant Professor Christine Lattin from LSU along with colleagues led this study of wild songbirds that showed dopamine is vital in responding to chronic stressors, which can assist wildlife conservation attempts concerning environmental stressors like natural disasters, habitat destruction, increases in predation, and extreme weather events.