February 08, 2009
Guys Get Hooked By Oxytocin When They Kiss

Kissing cuts down stress hormone levels in men and women. Think about that after a stressful day or week.

Hill wanted to find out just what happens to evoke such a powerful emotional response from simply rubbing lips. Her research looked at the impact of kissing on levels of two hormones, oxytocin and cortisol, in 15 male-female couples before and after holding hands and before and after kissing.

Oxytocin is known to be involved in social bonding so the researchers predicted that its levels would rise, while cortisol, a stress hormone, would fall. The results showed cortisol levels fell in both sexes, although oxytocin levels rose in men but fell in women.

But at least in the original non-romantic environment of a university health center only the men experienced a bond-forming boost of the hormone oxytocin. Does this mean that men get hooked by kisses but women dont? Maybe not. These sicentists are about to announce whether women too get an oxytocin boost from kissing in more romantic settings.

The scientists have since replicated the tests in more intimate settings, to see if the less-than-alluring environment of the university health centres where the original research was carried out hampered women's hormonal surge.

The final results will be presented at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago this week.

So guys, you might need to be careful where you kiss a woman if you don't want her getting the upper hand. Before you know it you'll be wrapped around her finger and she won't feel the same.

Update: Oxytocin boosts memories of faces.

Oxytocin, a hormone involved in child-birth and breast-feeding, helps people recognize familiar faces, according to new research in the January 7 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. Study participants who had one dose of an oxytocin nasal spray showed improved recognition memory for faces, but not for inanimate objects.

"This is the first paper showing that a single dose of oxytocin specifically improves recognition memory for social, but not for nonsocial, stimuli," said Ernst Fehr, PhD, an economist at the University of Zurich who has studied oxytocin's effect on trust and is unaffiliated with the new study. "The results suggest an immediate, selective effect of the hormone: strengthening neuronal systems of social memory," Fehr said.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 February 08 10:28 PM  Brain Sexuality

David Govett said at February 9, 2009 8:27 PM:

I'm surprised that companies don't include oxytocin in their packaging or even oxytocin precursors in their packaged foods. Don't know its bioavailability, though.

Perry E. Metzger said at February 11, 2009 2:19 PM:

There are also brain-blood barrier issues. Oxytocin and its near relative vasopressin don't go through the barrier.

Gaz said at February 16, 2009 1:55 PM:

'There are also brain-blood barrier issues. Oxytocin and its near relative vasopressin don't go through the barrier.'

A lot of research indicates that intranasal administration of oxytocin results in better penetration of the blood / brain barrier. These things will first hit the shelves as sprays, not as drugs or inside 'healthy' foods.

Sterling said at November 11, 2010 4:24 AM:

"Does this mean that men get hooked by kisses but women dont?"

Subsequent studies have shown that women do, indeed, get an oxytocin boost from kissing. In fact, even a hug can initiate oxytocin release. Most forms of skin to skin contact increase levels, too. An interesting effect of this hormone is that it tends to lead to greater monogamy as the bonding is specific to the couple involved during the oxytocin surge.

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