Most clinicians equate the hormone oxytocin with milk letdown during lactation, but a plenary session on April 3 will share some fascinating research that shows some non-classical roles for this classical hormone.
“Got Milk? Oxytocin and the Biology of Attachment: It’s Not Just for Lactation Anymore” will begin at 9:45 AM in Room Valencia B.
“In neurobiology, oxytocin is increasingly being shown to be the hormone that facilitates bonding between mother and infant,” said Annual Meeting Steering Committee (AMSC) Chair Gary D. Hammer, MD, PhD. “You can understand its role in milk letdown; that alone facilitates the bonding of mother and infant. However, new research shows that this hormone has assumed other big roles in bonding itself in the neurobiology of bonding.”
The first lecture “Oxytocin and the Healing Power of Love,” will be given by C. Sue Carter, PhD. Carter is currently the director of the Kinsey Institute, and the Rudy Professor of Biology at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Carter’s current research focuses on the developmental consequences of oxytocin and vasopressin, including research on the neurobiology of social deficits seen in autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, postpartum depression, and Williams syndrome. Her research has provided evidence for the capacity of social support, possibly acting through oxytocin, to heal and protect against various forms of illness.
Carter’s talk will be followed by Larry J. Young, PhD, who will present “Oxytocin, Social Bonding and Empathy: Implications for Autism.” Young is director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience and of the Silvio O. Conte Center for Oxytocin and Social Cognition at Emory University in Atlanta. Young is also a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Emory and chief of the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
Young’s research seeks to understand how the brain functions to regulate social relationships. Young’s research has revealed that brain chemicals such as oxytocin and vasopressin regulate the neural processing of social information and promote the formation of social bonds by acting in specific neural pathways. He has developed paradigms that are being used to screen drugs that enhance social function, and is developing novel strategies for drug discovery for treating social impairments in autism and schizophrenia.