The brain opioid theory of social attachment: a review of the evidence

The brain opioid theory of social attachment: a review of the evidence Review The brain opioid theory of social attachment: a review of the evidence A.J. Machin 1) & R.I.M. Dunbar (Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK) (Accepted: 19 August 2011) Summary The psychology of close human relationships is increasingly well understood and our under- standing of the neurobiology of the onset of pairbonding behaviour in a range of species has benefited from the use of rodent-based models. However, the human literature has suffered from a lack of focus upon the unique nature of primate social bonds and has so far failed to adequately identify the neurobiological and behavioural mechanisms which maintain these complex, diverse and enduring social networks. One neurobiological mechanism that has been overlooked is the endogenous opioid system. Though less explicitly researched than the more familiar oxytocin/vasopressin system, there is considerable evidence that the opioids play a fundamental role in sociality, especially in the primates. This review summarises our current understanding of the evidence for the role of this system in prosocial behaviour in non-primate mammals, nonhuman primates and humans. An important conclusion is that the opioid system may play a more central role in sociality in primates (including humans) than in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Behaviour Brill

The brain opioid theory of social attachment: a review of the evidence

Behaviour, Volume 148 (9-10): 985 – Jan 1, 2011

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2011 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0005-7959
eISSN
1568-539X
D.O.I.
10.1163/000579511X596624
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Review The brain opioid theory of social attachment: a review of the evidence A.J. Machin 1) & R.I.M. Dunbar (Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK) (Accepted: 19 August 2011) Summary The psychology of close human relationships is increasingly well understood and our under- standing of the neurobiology of the onset of pairbonding behaviour in a range of species has benefited from the use of rodent-based models. However, the human literature has suffered from a lack of focus upon the unique nature of primate social bonds and has so far failed to adequately identify the neurobiological and behavioural mechanisms which maintain these complex, diverse and enduring social networks. One neurobiological mechanism that has been overlooked is the endogenous opioid system. Though less explicitly researched than the more familiar oxytocin/vasopressin system, there is considerable evidence that the opioids play a fundamental role in sociality, especially in the primates. This review summarises our current understanding of the evidence for the role of this system in prosocial behaviour in non-primate mammals, nonhuman primates and humans. An important conclusion is that the opioid system may play a more central role in sociality in primates (including humans) than in

Journal

BehaviourBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2011

Keywords: ENDOGENOUS OPIOID SYSTEM; BETA-ENDORPHIN; PROSOCIALITY; OPRM1; RELATIONSHIPS

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