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Oxytocin May Make Memories Clearer, Scientists Say

April 22, 2011 Research Articles No Comments

The physical trauma of childbirth is often forgotten just long enough for women to decide to do it all over again, and oxytocin was originally thought to be the reason for this phenomenon.

“The first thought was that oxytocin was an amnesiac,” says C. Sue Carter, a professor of psychiatry and co-director of The Brain Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “The idea had traction. The basic idea there was that the oxytocin circulating in the bloodstream during childbirth reduced memories of stress and the pain.”

Now, however, some scientists believe the opposite may be true. Oxytocin is being pinpointed in some studies as a memory enhancer, at least as far as social memories are concerned.

Studies done in 2002 and 2004 on rodents injected with oxytocin suggested that the hormone was responsible for the rodents’ ability to recognize each other after first “meeting.” This social recognition was inferred by the rodents’ decreased “investigative behavior” of each other during subsequent encounters, researchers said.

A November 2010 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proved researchers’ theory that oxytocin would amplify a group of 31 men’s initial memories about their mothers.

Those who inhaled a synthetic version of the hormone (versus a placebo) recalled intensified memories of their mothers if their relationships had been secure, caring and positive, the study showed, while those whose ties were frayed downgraded their opinions of their mothers.

“We believe oxytocin may help people form memories about important social information in their environment and attach incentive value to those memories,” said the study’s lead author, Jennifer Bartz, Ph.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Adding to the literature, a January 2009 article in The Journal of Neuroscience indicated that oxytocin makes a face already in memory more familiar.

Inhaled oxytocin specifically improved facial recognition in 44 participants who were shown a series of pictures of strangers. With higher oxytocin levels, previously presented faces were more correctly assessed as “known,” though the ability of recollecting faces was unchanged, according to study author Ulrike Rimmele of the University of Zurich in Switzerland.  

ABC Nutriceuticals has introduced an oxytocin nasal spray called Oxytocin Factor. CEO Gordon Parks states, “It is formulated for individuals needing support during stressful and overwhelming times; to calm and refresh the mind and body both physically and mentally. To learn more about this exciting hormone visit www.oxytocinfactor.com

For more information contact Gordon Parks, CEO of ABC Nutriceuticals at   Gordon@abcnutriceuticals.com or call (208) 319-3514


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