Attachment, Aggression and Affiliation: the Role of Oxytocin in Female Behavior

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The article, “Attachment, Aggression and Affiliation: The Role of Oxytocin in Female Behavior,” generally discusses the behavioral effects of oxytocin (OT) based on human and animal studies. It is broken down in two perspectives: specific attachment which focuses on the role of oxytocin in relation to bonds and relationship forming with loved ones and the use of aggression to protect those relationships and trait affiliation which focuses on oxytocin as being a contributing factor in social behavior. In addition, the articles identifies some problems in oxytocin research and implications to understand the role of oxytocin.

Studies revealed that, in regards to the specific attachment approach, female animals have upregulated OT receptors in the uterus and brain that are important in coordinating maternal behavior. This type of behavior includes licking the pups, providing a nest for the pups, retrieving the pups to the nest, giving access to the nipples and providing body heat. OT has been implicated in the onset of maternal behavior and not specifically the maintenance. The article also demonstrated maternal aggression and how it is directed towards the pups but also how it enhances attacks on predators or intruders. This aggression is associated with lower levels of fear. In both rodents and humans, administering OT results in lower levels of fearful behavior. Researchers suggest that, unlike in female rodents, OT does not contribute to human maternal behaviors. However, OT is increased in the cerebrospinal fluid during childbirth in humans and postpartum plasma levels are related with positive feelings and decreased anxiety levels. Mixed results have been drawn about maternal aggression in human and other species but as to whether or not these behaviors are associated with OT are not clear. In the article, how the presence of OT affects mating and partner preferences. In animals, specifically the prairie vole and the montane vole, the OT recptors are found...
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