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Brainís Amygdala and Oxytocin Play a Key Role in Social Behavior

by Reshma Anand on December 16, 2015 at 12:09 PM
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Brainís Amygdala and Oxytocin Play a Key Role in Social Behavior

How social you are may be determined by a small portion of your brain, revealed a new study.

A recent study published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , conducted a study on three rhesus monkeys to know their social behavior. The study was led by Dr. Michael Platt, who studied the monkeys for 22 years both in his lab and in the wild.

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He explained that the amygdala region of the brain determines the level of social behavior that includes, sharing, kindness, co-operation etc.

"The amygdala, especially the basolateral division (BLA), has been implicated in both decision-making and social perception, inviting the possibility that it contributes to decision-making with respect to others," said Platt.
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He added, "This set of nuclei is well known for contributions to emotional experience and expression, especially fear. More recent studies demonstrate activity in BLA tracks the value of rewards and punishments, predicts risky financial decisions, reflects internal motivational goals, and correlates with vigilance and attention."

There was an actor monkey and a recipient monkey ó actors learn different-colored shapes are associated with a reward (a squirt of juice); one they can give to themselves, a neighboring monkey, or to no monkey at all.

"When people inhale oxytocin, there is a change in blood flow to the amygdala, which we think might be involved in making people kinder and more receptive to others," Platt said.

Platt said that these findings endorse the amygdala as a critical part of the brain when it comes to regulating social decisions. It could have implications for those with autism, schizophrenia, or anxiety-related disorders.

He concluded, "What we're trying to do is both identify and understand the basic brain mechanism that allows us to be kind to each other and to respond to the experiences of other individuals. We're also trying to use that knowledge to evaluate potential therapies that could improve the function of these neural circuits, especially for those who have difficulty connecting with others."

Source: Medindia
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