Molecule of the Moment (03:18)
Last century, oxytocin was discovered and considered a maternal hormone because of its role in breastfeeding. Both genders actually possess the hormone, which stimulates bonding and may be useful in treating addiction issues in adults.
Influencing Mating Behavior (02:19)
Tests on prairie voles show that oxytocin creates attachment between romantic partners. Monogamous mammals like prairie voles have high density oxytocin receptors in the brain.
Social Neuroscience (03:47)
In the first few years of human life, eye contact and physical touch help the brain and body develop a working oxytocin system. Romanian orphans denied contact in early years exemplify what happens when this contact does not occur. Rats treated with oxytocin are less likely to indulge in alcohol.
Sobering Effect (02:35)
Researchers found that oxytocin administered into the brain of rats prevented dopamine release in the brain, effectively blocking drunkenness. It does not affect blood-alcohol level.
Dependency Studies (03:21)
Because alcoholics like Rachel often feel like they cannot connect to others without alcohol, oxytocin may have a role in assisting recovering addicts from relapsing. Alcoholic men in a study who were given oxytocin maintained sobriety.
Inoculation Against Addiction (02:38)
Dr. Phillips finds that being around his daughters almost doubles his oxytocin levels. It remains important to hug children into their teens.
Robots and Chemical Weapons (03:51)
The crown-of-thorns starfish feeds on the live Great Barrier Reef. It is likely to wipe out an entire coral system because of its growing numbers, so divers and scientists work to try to kill off starfish with robots and chemical weapons.
Green Island Trial (03:45)
Roboticists created a "COT spot" robot that spots crown-of-thorn starfish underwater, then jabs the starfish with chemicals that will kill them. The robot recognizes 2-D images and can spot starfish accurately over 99 percent of the time. Lisa Bostrom Einarsson discovered that vinegar works in place of expensive bio-salts.
Extracting Snail Mucous (03:48)
Crown-of-thorn starfishes reproduce at incredible rates. In an effort to reduce their spawning, scientists are employing chemicals released by a predator of the starfish: the giant Triton snail. The chemicals spur fear in the starfish, making them scurry off and hopefully dispersing their mating groups.
Credits: Oxytocin / Crown of Thorns Starfish: Catalyst (00:29)
Credits: Oxytocin / Crown of Thorns Starfish: Catalyst
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