Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Why All Your Memories Are Painful

"Oxytocin, popularly known as the ‘love hormone’ is largely responsible for feeling ‘connected’ to other people, as well as our feeling of self well-being. It is the chemical reason behind your feeling of social bonds, and ultimately – love. However new research by Northwestern Medicine® published in Nature Neuroscience has shown that this happy hormone is also responsible for some of our most long lasting pain. The research showed that one function of the hormone is to strengthen social memory in one specific region of the brain, and, if an experience is painful or distressing, Oxytocin will activate a part of the brain that intensifies the memory. So the same hormone that brings you the joy of love is also behind the painful embarrassment of a social faux pas lasting for years, not seeming to fade."


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The straight-science read : This is interesting but not terribly surprising. Structurally, oxytocin is very similar (only 2 amino acids different!) to the vasopressins, which are already implicated in both memory formation and pair / social bonding, so it stands to reason that they would have similar functions in the brain proper.

The non-straight-science read : Yeah, this is just another data point supporting my theory that evolution proceeds via whatever adaptation will cause the most psychic pain to future generations. I'm calling it the theory of evolution by nature-kicking-you-repeatedly-in-the-nuts. THANKS, BIOLOGY.

BadUncle (#153)

So, is there an antidote? Because I've got a Junior High backup in my brain.

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