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Arlin Cuncic

Smell You Later: How Vasopressin May Be Linked to Social Anxiety

By March 28, 2010

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Do our noses help us makes connections with others? New research suggests that this may be the case. Edinburgh scientist Mike Ludwig, in collaboration with scientists in Germany and Japan, investigated how animals identify each other by scent.

This function is supported by the hormone vasopressin. When their vasopressin systems were short-circuited, rats were unable to recognize other rats that they had already met.

Results of the study shed some light on a potential piece of the puzzle when it comes to mental health issues such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and autism.

It could be that the vasopressin system does not work properly, preventing these individuals from bonding with others. However, more research is needed to make the leap from rats to humans.

Vasopressin wouldn't be the first hormone to be implicated in emotional connection and anxiety issues. There has been much research into the role of oxytocin in bonding, and there are even nasal sprays designed to give you an oxytocin boost.

What do you think? Could social anxiety be explained by something as simple as how rats smell each other? Personally, I think this could be one piece of a very large puzzle. For the time being, it is a very interesting theory.

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