testosterone at the origin of a 3rd unsuspected behavior

Verified on 08/09/2022 by PasseportSanté

According to a new animal study, testosterone does not only promote sexual behavior and aggression in males. Indeed, it could also be the source of friendly and prosocial behavior. It could even influence the neural activity of oxytocin cells, the love hormone.

Testosterone can induce prosocial and friendly behavior

Numerous studies have already shown that testosterone is associated with sexual desire and aggression in males. A new study by neuroscientists at Emory University has just revealed that testosterone can also cause unsuspected behavior.

To reach this discovery, the researchers carried out several experiments on Mongolian gerbils, rodents known to form long-lasting pairs. According to their findings, testosterone can promote friendly and prosocial behavior in male gerbils.

According to Aubrey Kelly, assistant professor of psychology at Emory and first author of the study: For what we believe to be the first time, we have demonstrated that testosterone can directly promote non-sexual and prosocial behavior, in addition to aggression, in the same individual. […] This is surprising because normally we think testosterone increases sexual behavior and aggression. But we have shown that it can have more nuanced effects, depending on the social context ».

Testosterone can influence the neural activity of oxytocin cells

In addition, the experiments carried out by the scientists also revealed how testosterone can influence the neural activity of oxytocin cells, the “love hormone” associated with social connection.

Although human behaviors are more complex than those of Mongolian gerbils, the researchers hope their findings can provide material for future studies of other species, including humans.

According to Richmond Thompson, a neuroscientist at Emory University’s Oxford College, is co-author of the study: Our hormones are the same, and the parts of the brain they act on are the same. Thus, learning how hormones like testosterone help other animals adapt to rapidly changing social contexts will help us not only to understand the biological workings that affect their behavior, but also to predict and ultimately understand how the same molecules in the human brain help shape ours ».

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