Watching an episode of the ABC science show Catalyst got our juices flowing as it highlighted the role of the neuropeptide ‘Oxytocin’, sometimes known as the love hormone, in social connection and behaviour.
It points out how stimulating the release of Oxytocin may help inhibit alcohol and drug use and specific to us, how affirming touch (ie: massage at work!) plays a big part in stimulating its release in the brain.
Found in men and women we have a high density of Oxytocin receptors in the reward centres of our brain. When we receive and importantly accept, positive touch, for example, these receptors are fired off releasing Oxytocin into our bloodstream.
Oxytocin influences how sociable each of us is. It allows us to tune in and perceive the social information around us in much higher resolution. Simply put, it helps us to pay more attention to the social information around us.
Scientists now believe that harnessing its power could be a game changer in prosocial activities as it plays a pivotal role in facilitating social connection on a broad scale.
From early on in life, social stimulation such as touch is crucial for development and it sets us up to expect more of this in the future.
For far too many, their adult lives are lacking the safe nurturing touch they received as an infant.
Positive touch as an adult is the reinforcement of the stimulation received in our formative years and for some, an introduction to it.
Dr. Femke Buisman-Pijlamn, of the University of Adelaide, says the release of Oxytocin gives us a feeling a little like some drugs might, a very positive, rewarding feeling, and we need to learn to release it through positive social experiences.
Dr. Buisman-Pijlman states that …
Physical contact is very important to get an increase in Oxytocin levels. As a primer or stimulant, positive touch experiences are a potent way to fire off the Oxytocin receptors in our brain resulting in prosocial behaviours.
Interestingly, Oxytocin Intranasal sprays are becoming popular in some quarters due to their relative ease of purchase on the net, yet the amount reaching the brain is likely a “vanishingly small amount” according to Iain McGregor, Professor of Psychopharmacology of Sydney University.
However stimulation from positive touch experiences “is going directly to the brain and causing the neurons to fire and release Oxytocin. And that is far more powerful than an intranasal spray” says Professor Larry Young a Social Neuro-Scientist at Emory University.
Testing of an Oxytocin drug delivered directly to the brain is still in its infancy. What is proven every day by millions worldwide is human connection: the striking potency of safe and enjoyable physical touch helping the release of Oxytocin from the reward centres in our brain.
And the social enhancements of Oxytocin’s release means only one thing for you, your colleagues and your workplace: A more sociable, enjoyable and engaging environment to work from and within.
Relating to or denoting behaviour which is positive, helpful, and intended to promote social acceptance and friendship. Intended to benefit other people or society as a whole.
Disclaimer: Some information and quotes above are gleaned from the ABC 1 Catalyst program ‘Oxytocin‘ which aired in February 2016. Our sole intention is to simply share this information with you.