The results of this research into fathers’ reactions to oxytocin are unexpected and counter-intuitive. While fathers show bonding responses specifically with their own child in a normal way, yet when oxytocin (the ‘bonding’ hormone) is artificially administered the results show a dampening down of responses.

pdfOxytocin modulates neural reactivity to children's faces as a function of social salience (full summary)

  • Oxytocin is a hormone found in the brain that is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone” because it stimulates affectionate feelings and behaviour.
  • Fathers of pre-school children show a particular pattern of brain activity when shown pictures of their own children that is different to that seen with pictures of other children of similar ages and the same sex.
  • These effects were reduced when the fathers were given oxytocin, suggesting that it may reduce social anxiety through reducing differences in brain responses to familiar and unfamiliar children.