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February 2009

Oxytocin Makes It Easier to Recognize Faces

In a study by the University of Zurich and NYU, participants who had one dose of an oxytocin nasal spray showed improved recognition memory for faces, but not for inanimate objects. Lead author was  Ulrike Rimmele of NYU.

The University of Zurich hosted the very first human oxytocin experiments. The results are similar to earlier experiments on mice; therefore, it gives weight to the idea that we can extrapolate from mice to humans. This is a good thing, since it's much easier to dose mice than human subjects.

Society for Neuroscience (2009, January 6). Hormone Improves Human Ability To Recognize Faces But Not Places. ScienceDaily

UPDATE: I thought this was on the ho-hum side as human oxytocin research goes, but the press did not agree:

Good memory for a face? Thank the love hormone
New Scientist, UK - 6 hours ago
Oxytocin - a hormone dubbed the "cuddle chemical" for its role in long-term love and maternal care - might also help us distinguish acquaintances from total ...
Unmasked: the elixir of human bonding
Independent, UK - 18 hours ago
By Steve Connor, Science Editor It is said to be a love hormone that helps breastfeeding mothers to bond with their babies, as well as a "trust serum" ...
Hormone Improves Human Ability To Recognize Faces But Not Places
Science Daily (press release) - 18 hours ago
ScienceDaily (Jan. 6, 2009) — Oxytocin, a hormone involved in child-birth and breast-feeding, helps people recognize familiar faces, according to new ...
Hormone may help men recognize familiar faces
CBC.ca, Canada - 20 hours ago
A hormone normally released during childbirth and linked to sexual pleasure and bonding also seems to help men to recognize faces, researchers have found. ...
The memory hormone?
Los Angeles Times, CA - 20 hours ago
It’s the hormone that makes people bond with their mates and helps mothers fall in love with their babies. Now researchers have shown that oxytocin plays an ...
Scientists discover why some people are better with faces than names
Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom - 20 hours ago
The reason why some people are better with faces than names has been identified by scientists and it appears to be due to their higher levels of a special ...
"Love" hormone may aide memory
WELT ONLINE, Germany - Jan 6, 2009
The "love" hormone linked to feelings of sexual pleasure, bonding and maternal care also appears to help us recognise familiar faces, Swiss researchers said ...
Love hormone helps remember faces
PRESS TV, Iran - 2 hours ago
Researchers have found that the hormone responsible for bonding and maternal care might also help people recognize familiar faces. ...
Haven't I Seen You Before?
Science Magazine (subscription) - 14 hours ago
By Constance Holden The next time you spot an old friend from across the room, thank oxytocin. Researchers have shown that the brain hormone helps us sense ...
Love Hormone May Improve Face Recognition Ability
WiredPRNews.com (press release), TX - 17 hours ago
A new study suggests that the hormone linked to “love” related feelings plays key role in face recognition. Wired PR News.com – The hormone associated with ...
Hormone improves memory
WFIE-TV, IN - 19 hours ago
(NBC) - A hormone that plays a critical role in childbirth and breastfeeding also helps you recognize old friends. Researchers put the hormone, ...
Recognition of Faces Dredged Up by Birth Hormone
MedPage Today, NJ - 20 hours ago
By John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today ZURICH, Switzerland, Jan. 6 -- A whiff of oxytocin can help spur the recognition of faces as familiar but can't ...
How 'love-drug' hormone released in childbirth can help you ...
Daily Mail, UK - 7 hours ago
By Daily Mail Reporter Many of us have the daily struggle of putting a name to a familiar face. Now scientists have discovered that a natural 'love drug' in ...

Dog-Gazing Raises Your Oxytocin Levels

Golden Gate Park 094

This is only the second study I know of assessing the relationship between oxytocin and having a pet. The Boston Globe reports that dog owners who gave commands to their pets while looking at them had higher levels of oxytocin in their urine. And, owners who were closer to their dogs had higher levels than those who were less attached.

Actually, the article gets it a bit wrong: and the difference is pretty interesting. In fact, the title of the article is, "Dog's Gaze at Owner Increases Urinary Oxytocin During Social Interaction." I like this, because it identifies the dog as an active and important participant in the interaction.  The researchers were Mino Nagasawa, Takefumi Kikusui, Tatsushi Onaka, and Mitsuaki Ohta.

Read the brief article, referencing the unpublished study from Japan, here: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/01/04/surprising_insights_from_the_social_sciences/?page=2

For info on the previous study, read My Dog Really Does Love Me.