Saturday, May 23, 2015

Oxytocin, Alcohol Seem to Work on Brain in Similar Ways

The so-called "love hormone" oxytocin affects human behavior in much the same way as alcohol does, British researchers report.

Oxytocin is a hormone involved in mother-child bonding, social interactions and romance.

Previous research has shown that oxytocin boosts socially positive behaviors such as generosity, empathy and altruism, and makes people more willing to trust others, the researchers said.

The research team at the University of Birmingham analyzed existing research about oxytocin and alcohol and "were struck by the incredible similarities between the two compounds," researcher Ian Mitchell, from the School of Psychology, said in a university news release.

 
 



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Researchers Discover Brain Regions Responsible for Jumping to Conclusions

Most of the time, we learn only gradually, incrementally building connections between actions or events and outcomes. But there are exceptions–every once in a while, something happens and we immediately learn to associate that stimulus with a result. For example, maybe you have had bad service at a store once and sworn that you will never shop there again.

This type of one-shot learning is more than handy when it comes to survival–think, of an animal quickly learning to avoid a type of poisonous berry. In that case, jumping to the conclusion that the fruit was to blame for a bout of illness might help the animal steer clear of the same danger in the future. On the other hand, quickly drawing connections despite a lack of evidence can also lead to misattributions and superstitions; for example, you might blame a new food you tried for an illness when in fact it was harmless, or you might begin to believe that if you do not eat your usual meal, you will get sick.