Recently, Rockefeller University’s researchers observed a brain cell mechanism, which causes prosocial hormone phenomenon.
Nathaniel Heintz, James and Marilyn Simons Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology stated that, “We identify that oxytocin activated a new population of neurons and this chemical signal persuades relations between male and female mice.”
With the help of TRAP (Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification) technique, the researchers found that a brain receptor responds to oxytocin present in the outer layer of the brain, called as the cortex.
The question arises: What is this small, scattered population of inter-neurons doing in response to the oxytocin signal? Miho Nakajima (a doctorate student) responded, “This is because oxytocin involves in the social behaviors of females, that’s why we decided to center our experiments on females.”
The researchers tried to find out that how these oxytocin receptor inter-neurons (OxtrINs) affected behavior when activated by oxytocin. They hushed the OxtrINs and in the 2nd experiment blocked the receptor’s ability in order to identify oxytocin in rodent females. Afterwards, these females were given a social behavior test in which they have the choice to search a room containing a male mouse or an inanimate object. As a result, female mice are more interested in the mate than Lego. Whereas the mice with the OxtrINs silenced, researchers observed a strangely high level of interest in the object.
However, these results propose that the female reproductive cycle has an influence over behavior. Nakajima conducted the 2nd study in which he looked at whether the mice were in a sexually reproductive phase or inactive. She discovered that the mice in estrus, a sexually reproductive phase, portrayed an abnormal lack of interest in males with the inactivated receptor.
The researchers are yet not sure how oxytocin prompts mice in estrus to become interested in potential mates. Oxytocin plays a similar role in humans too, but it’s not obvious that if a human version of this interaction is influenced by the hormone.