Deciphering the role of the oxytocin system in mental traits and physical health

The hormone oxytocin has been associated with childbirth and breastfeeding for well over a century. However, more recent research has begun to reveal that oxytocin also influences our thoughts and feelings, particularly those related to social behavior.

About the project

Considering that oxytocin levels in the brain can be increased with intranasal administration of the hormone, there has been considerable excitement when it comes to its potential to help treat psychiatric illnesses characterised by social dysfunction, such as schizophrenia. Moreover, other areas of research suggest that the oxytocin system is involved with appetite regulation and how our bodies store and use energy. But despite this recent research interest, researchers are yet to have a comprehensive understanding of this hormone system and how it influences our physical and mental health.

Objectives

To address this knowledge gap, this project will use a "big data" approach that will combine the analysis of behavioural, health, and genetic data. Through a series of analyses, this project will unravel how the function of the oxytocin system changes over the lifespan, how variations in the oxytocin genetic system are associated with health outcomes, and how the human oxytocin system evolved in the first place. Altogether, this project will provide a broader understand of oxytocin’s role in health, which will help guide scientists better grasp oxytocin's therapeutic potential.

Financing

The Research Council of Norway (FRIPRO - Young Research Talents) 2020 - 2024.

Published Oct. 21, 2020 1:18 PM - Last modified Apr. 21, 2021 1:36 PM