TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The so-called "love
hormone" oxytocin promotes greater kindness in monkeys, a new study
It included two rhesus macaques who were seated next to each
other and trained to choose different symbols that either provided
a squirt of fruit juice for the monkey itself, juice for the other
monkey or no juice at all.
In repeated tests, the monkeys had to make a choice between just
two of the options: juice for self or no juice; juice to self or
juice to other; and juice to other or no juice.
After inhaling oxytocin, the monkeys paid more attention to each
other and were more likely to give the other monkey juice, even if
they didn't get juice themselves, the Duke University researchers
Oxytocin is currently being evaluated as a therapy for autism,
schizophrenia and other disorders characterized by a lack of
interest or caring about others, study leader Michael Platt, a
neuroscientist and director of the Duke Institute for Brain
Sciences, noted in a Duke news release.
The hormone appears to boost trust and social skills in
patients, but it's not known how the process works or whether the
effects are consistent over the long term.
This type of research may help establish monkeys as a good
behavioral and pharmacological model for understanding oxytocin
therapy, Platt said.
However, scientists note that research involving animals often
fails to produce similar results in humans.
The American Psychological Association has more about