Tag Archives: oxytocin

Oxytocin Saturday: Baby Koalas

The comedian Mitch Hedberg famously wished that instead of having infestations of ants and roaches, he could have an infestation of baby koalas.  Sounds great to us.

1. Vintage – Australian Families Caring for Orphaned Koalas

Who doesn’t want to keep a tiny baby koala in a sock under their blouse?

2. Baby Koala Has His First Meal of Leaves

Mmmmmm…. eucalyptus!

3. Little Guy Goes on a Climbing Adventure

It’s tough work stretching those little baby koala muscles.


image: [n.hewson]

Oxytocin Saturday: Corgi Puppies!

All puppies are adorable of course, but there’s just something magical about corgis with their short little legs.  They’re like the hobbits of puppydom.

1. Corgi Puppy ‘Attack’

If only all attacks in the world were executed by corgi puppies – I guess we’d have a lot more tail-wagging and a lot less sorrow.

2. Butterball vs. The Big Bad Stairs

The next time you’re scared to do something in your life – just think of Butterball and her brave, triumphant journey down the stairs.

3. Up Close with a Baby Corgi

I think this little guy might be in Japan – the great thing about this video is the camera angle. It’s on-the-level with the corgi baby, for maximum cuteness.


image: [kevinkyen]

Oxytocin Saturday: Baby Woodland Creatures

The weather is getting colder and the adorable creatures of the forest are getting ready to burrow down for the winter.  We may be unable to find them outside – but thanks to the magic of the internet, we have a supply of woodland cuteness that should last us till spring.

1. Slow Motion Chipmunk

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Chipmunk cutneness can best be appreciated at a slower rate.

2. Baby Squirrels Adopted by Mama Cat

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A mama cat with love to spare saves the lives of two orphaned woodland babes.

3. Baby Foxes Take a Bath

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What better than a bubble bath to help these pups look their foxiest best?


image: [mike baird]

Oxytocin Saturday: Baby Bats

A cave full of bats might be scary – but little baby bats are adorable.

1. Lil’ Drac

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Lil Drac’s mom abandoned him – now he’s being tenderly cared for by wild-life rescuers at Bat World Sanctuary.

2. Stretching and Yawning

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This little guy is a false vampire bat – which means he would rather have a nice stretch than suck your blood.

3. Baby Bats Found in India

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This little guy fits on his rescuer’s fingers!


image: [hashmil]

Oxytocin Saturday: A Wild Halloween

Humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy Halloween traditions!

1.  Zoo Animals Have Fun with Pumpkins

Why carve jack’o'lanterns when you can just smash pumpkins open and eat them?

2. Puttin’ on the Ritz

Everybody likes to get dressed up. The froufier, the better. Also, why not kick pumpkins around like footballs?

3. Kitties vs. Halloween

Featuring an epic battle with a bat-shaped balloon. ;)


image: [sneakerdog]

Oxytocin Saturday: Baby Animals of the North

It’s getting cold outside! What better way to warm up your heart than by watching videos of cute baby arctic animals?

1. Dartmouth Veternarians Rescue an Orphan

The soft little moans this guy makes as the doctors race to save his life are so touching.

2. Flocke, a Five-Week Old Baby Polar Bear

Flocke’s mother rejected her so animal rescuers took her in.  It’s hard to imagine how anyone could reject that adorable bundle of fur.

3. Mitik the Baby Walrus Plays and Snuggles

Oh boy, that’s a big baby! But who ever imagined that walrus cuddles could be so sweet?


image: [lawmurray]

Trust and the Brain

The Biological Necessity of Trust

Trust is among several psychological traits that have profound influence on the very foundation of human society, and it is essential for building cooperation and forming relationships that aid in the continuation of our species. Without a certain sense of trust, we would be unable to navigate our way through the world, display debilitating levels of anxiety, and perceive all other members of our species as potential threats, which would reduce our chances of mating and passing along our genes.

Emerging research also shows that individuals who display higher levels of trust are more protected against social pain, meaning they are less likely to be deterred by negative or unfavorable social encounters. Social pain is correlated with increased activity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and experiments with Japanese undergraduates have shown that the particular regions of the prefrontal cortex critical for regulating social pain in this area are more active in people who possess higher levels of general trust.1

Far from merely being the subject of popular romantic fiction these days, the manipulation of trust—for better or worse—has become increasingly important to business managers, politicians, and the like now that science has begun to unravel the neurological components of the social phenomenon.

Manipulating Trust

A 2011 study by Kang et al. examined the effects of physical temperature on trust behaviors. In the behavioral portion of their experiment, participants were primed with either hot or cold hand packs before engaging in an economic trust game. Those primed with the cold packs were less trustful of their anonymous partners than those primed with warm packs. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the authors also found increased activity in the left anterior insula region when trust decisions were preceded by priming with a cold pack. 2  The results of the study may help to explain why we feel uneasy when shaking the cold, clammy hand of a stranger or why we prefer visiting friends with warm, cozy homes.

In addition to our external surroundings, the internal milieu also greatly influences the development and expression of interpersonal trust. Individuals who have suffered unilateral damage to the amygdala display increased benevolent behavior in the aforementioned trust game, even in response to partners who have betrayed them.3 Similarly, one might further develop an argument for the role of an overactive amygdala (also involved in processing fear-related information) in shaping the behaviors of individuals with depression, who often have trouble trusting those closest to them and may be incapable of forming new social bonds at times.

Trust and Oxytocin

While manipulation of trust using chemical means may seem like the subject of science-fiction cinema, the possibility is real to some extent. Intranasal administration of oxytocin, the hormone involved in building that long-desired human connection, enhances feelings of trust toward others, including both those within one’s social group and those outside of the group. Variations in the gene responsible for encoding the oxytocin receptor can also help to explain why some people seem to be much more gullible (and easily manipulated) than others, at least when it comes to trusting others: Individuals whose receptor genes possess two guanine nucleotides instead of one or none tend to exhibit higher levels of trust behavior. 4,5

Of course, there are other emerging methods aimed at manipulating trust behavior, with much less insidious objectives.

Trust and Synchrony

Dance/movement therapies are based on the notion that the body and mind are intimately connected and emphasize the importance of synchronized movement in creating a simultaneous experiencing of the world for multiple participants.

Dancers, musicians, soldiers, and even some professional athletes have long been aware of the power of the human connection that results from moving in perfect synchrony with another person. Even in virtual interactions, the development of synchrony has been shown to positively influence trust and cooperation amongst individuals. 6

As an individual on the autism spectrum, I have found it difficult to form social connections with my peers, and before I became aware of the scientific basis of my feelings, I always felt closest to other members of my college drumline (and later to other dancers) when we were moving in perfect unison. Perhaps then there is hope for individuals struggling to develop a deeper connection with the people in their lives. By learning to move with another person, we can learn to think with them—to better understand their unique experience of the world.

In addition to becoming more comfortable and learning to trust others, we learn to work with them, leading to positive results on a much more global level. Perhaps one day companies, organizations, and schools will focus more on icebreakers that develop this type of connection rather than on our favorite flavors of ice cream.


  1. Yanagisawa et al. (2011). Does higher general trust serve as a psychosocial buffer against social pain? An NIRS study of social exclusion. Social Neuroscience 6(2): 190-197.
  2. Kang et al. (2011). Physical temperature effects on trust behavior: the role of insula. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 6(4): 507-515.
  3. Koscik & Tranel. (2011). The human amygdala is necessary for developing and expressing normal interpersonal trust. Neuropsychologia 49(4): 602-611.
  4. Krueger et al. (2012). Oxytocin Receptor Genetic Variation Promotes Human Trust Behavior. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6(4).
  5. Van IJzendoorn & Batermans-Kranenburg. (2012). A sniff of trust: Meta-analysis of the effects of intranasal oxytocin administration on face recognition, trust to in-group, and trust to out-group. Psychoneuroendocrinology 37(3): 438-443.
  6. Launay et al. (2012). Synchronization can influence trust following virtual interaction. Experimental Psychology. DOI: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000173

image: [papalars]