Observatorio de Bioética, UCV

Human beings are designed to be faithful

Ideología de género / Noticias / Origen del Universo y de la vida

Human beings are designed to be faithful
02 mayo
11:14 2014

“Their partner was the most attractive”

Research conducted in the field of neurology in recent decades has seen many developments. The brain and brain activity are the subject of new discoveries which help us explain human behaviour. One such topic which has awakened interest is the reduced number of mammal species which are monogamous.

Scientists from Bonn University Medical Center in Germany, in an article published in PNAS (November 25, 2013, dol:10.1073/pnas.1314190110), argue that monogamy is not very common among mammals but humans often show this trait.

Dr. René Hurlemann, executive chief physician at the Bonn University Medical Centre, points out that “an important role in partner bonding is played by the hormone oxytocin, which is secreted in the brain.”

To study the effects of this hormone up close, Dr. Hurlemann and his team, in collaboration with researchers from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany and Chengdu University in China, showed a group of 40 heterosexual pair-bonded men photographs of their partners. Half were given oxytocin and the other half received a placebo via nasal aerosol. Researchers then analysed participants’ brain activity using functional magnetic resonance tomography.

The work’s main author, Dirk Scheele, states that when subjects “received oxytocin instead of the placebo, the brain regions researchers believe are associated to pleasure and desire are activated to a considerable extent when subjects are shown the photo of their partner. Subjects also believed that out of all the women shown to them, their partner was the most attractive – even though a third party had previously ranked all women equally in terms of attractiveness level.”

In subsequent tests, scientists looked at whether oxytocin had a similar effect when subjects looked at female acquaintances and work colleagues, in order to determine whether familiarity increases activation of the pleasure and desire centres of the brain when under the effect of this hormone. Their results were negative. In other words, familiarity alone does not drive the pair-bonding effect of oxytocin; the effect will only be seen in loving couples.

Dr. Hurlemann adds: “This could also explain why people fall into depression or deep mourning after a separation from their partner: due to lack of oxytocin secretion, the reward system is understimulated.”

We are of the opinion that this experiment shows how human nature is conditioned to ensure that males who remain faithful to their partners will feel a greater sense of happiness and plenitude. (“Oxytocin: the monogamy hormone?”  26/11/2013 Medical News Today)

Human beings are designed to be faithful
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SINOPSIS: The brain and brain activity are the subject of new discoveries which help us explain human behaviour. One such topic which has awakened interest is the reduced number of mammal species which are monogamous.

Scientists from Bonn University Medical Center in Germany, in an article published in PNAS (November 2013, argue that monogamy is not very common among mammals but humans often show this trait.

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