Neurotransmitter-of-the-month oxytocin could play role in parenting behavior

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dutch researchers published a study that suggests our genes may determine our parenting behavior. They found a correlation between nurturing behaviors and particular genetic variations. The finding highlights the role of serotonin and oxytocin in healthy human relationships.
Guest: Jonah Lehrer, science writer and Radio Lab contributing editor, in Los Angeles.

Comments [3]

Susan Kuchinskas

It's both. First off, whether or how much some genes are expressed, that is, turned on, depends on experience in the womb and after birth. This is called epigenetics.

Dario Maestripieri of Emory University did some experiments that illustrate how both genes and experience after birth can influence the way we mother. I just wrote a blog post covering it on Hug the Monkey:

Jun. 22 2008 04:26 PM

This is the old chicken and egg question. Did the genetics come first or the way the moms were taught when they were infants by someone with the same genetic code. We may never know because you cannot take a baby away at birth to do experiments on it.

But that having been said, YES, there are some people who should NOT be allowed to reproduce. Their genetic makeup should be eradicated. But it is for far more obvious reasons than Oxytocin. It's more like miserable afflictions like Crohn's disease and schizophrenia that are more obvious than having a happy childhood.

Jun. 20 2008 11:01 AM

I experienced the mood altering wonders of oxytocin during pregnancy, and later during my son's infancy. It made me wonder how local /global conflicts could be affected if world leaders were somehow required to take this peace-inducing hormone. Could a dose of oxytocin be surreptitiously embedded in the handles of all guns? I'm glad to hear that scientists are exploring a very beneficial hormone that is experienced by - many? most? - pregnant women.

Jun. 20 2008 09:15 AM

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