‘Love can overcome anything’; isn’t that a great quote? German researchers just made it real! According to a research in the Biological Psychiatry journal, oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’, can help people overcome fear. It inhibits the fear center in the brain and allows the fear stimuli to subside easily. Rene Hurlemann from the University of Bonn Hospital in Germany said that under oxytocin’s influence, the expectation of recurrent fear subsequently abates to a greater extent.
In the brain scanner, participants viewed photos of human faces. For 70 percent of the images, they received a very brief, unpleasant electrical shock to the hand via electrodes. “In this way, certain images were associated with an experience of anxiety in the subjects’ memory,” Hurlemann added. The scientists used two methods to prove that this pairing of a particular photo and pain was actually anchored in the subjects’ brains.
“The expectation of an electrical shock was demonstrated by increased cold sweat which was measured via skin conductivity. In addition, the brain scans prove that the fear regions in the brain were always particularly active,” the authors maintained. Half of the test subjects received oxytocin via a nasal spray. The rest received a placebo.
In the men under the influence of oxytocin, the amygdala – the fear centre in the brain – was overall far less active than in the control group.In the men under the influence of oxytocin, the Amygdala – the fear center in the brain – was overall far less active than in the control group. The scientists hope that anxiety patients can be helped more quickly with the aid of ‘love hormone’ and that a relapse can be better prevented.