News FocusNeuroscience

The Promise and Perils of Oxytocin

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Science  18 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6117, pp. 267-269
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6117.267

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Few substances produced by the human body have inspired as much hoopla as oxytocin. Although breathless media coverage often goes too far, it reflects a genuine and infectious excitement among many scientists about the hormone's role in social behavior: promoting trust and cooperation and making people more attuned to social cues. At first glance, oxytocin might seem like just what the doctor should be ordering. But as researchers have continued to explore the hormone's effect on human behavior, a darker side has emerged.