On the Brain: 'Cuddle' hormone not always positive
February 2nd, 2011
05:16 PM ET

On the Brain: 'Cuddle' hormone not always positive

This week we look at a brain chemical that can make you trust or suspect other people, the role of sleep in memory and other exciting new research and perspectives.

Rethinking oxytocin
You may have heard oxytocin described as the "cuddle hormone" because it's involved in the bond between romantic partners and between a mother and child. Studies have shown that it makes a person more trusting of others if he or she was already somewhat trusting. But now there's evidence that the chemical does not make everyone want to snuggle. New research finds that oxytocin can make someone who's suspicious of others even more hostile and uncooperative, reports ScienceNews.

Memory and sleep
Just knowing that you will have to recall something later makes you remember it better, a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience finds. The process of memory consolidation occurs during sleep, and it's common sense that if you don't sleep the night before a test, you won't perform as well as if you had. The study shows that it's not only facts that you remember better, but also learned skill sets, I reported for CNNHealth.com.

Kicking the habit
Will you quit smoking? A brain scan may be able to tell. Participants had functional magnetic imaging done of their brains while watching ads promoting smoking cessation. Researchers report in the journal Health Psychology that a reaction in the brain's prefrontal cortex was associated with reductions in smoking during a month after the brain scan. HealthDay via USA Today reports.

Scoring extra points with the kids
The mental health of young girls may benefit from playing video games with parents, Time's Healthland reports. The teens who played video games with a parent said they felt more closeness to their family and less aggression, and reported better behavior, than those who played alone or with friends. Researchers at Brigham Young University say it's the face-to-face time and interaction with parents that matters. It appears that boys did not display the same benefits, however.

'For fitter or fatter'
Marriage counselors are seeing more and more couples seeking therapy because of one spouse's athletic habits, which leave the other spouse feeling like an "exercise widow," the Wall Street Journal reports. Marathon trainings and other sporting excursions take away from family time, but are hard to give up. And sometimes getting buff attracts the attention of others, making the non-fit spouse feel insecure. The best solution is if both spouses engage in sports together, but it can still work out if one person just doesn't feel like it.

soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. asdfjkl;

    hostile and uncooperative? That's called 'marriage'

    February 2, 2011 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • meerkat

      this article is disorganized and has nothing to do with oxytocin for the most part.. sometimes CNN really puts absolute crap on their website

      February 3, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • BadPatient

      meerkat: if they had a like button, i would check it. especially in the health section...it's pretty bad, but most of what they pump out in health care is crap so this is just more of the same.

      February 3, 2011 at 16:22 | Report abuse |
  2. deeppenetratingaction

    So the fat spouse is jealous and insecure...what genious sponsored that study?

    February 2, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dew44

      ...Or the narcissistic, self-absorbed spouse gets off on attention from others to the detriment of his/her marriage...

      February 3, 2011 at 09:19 | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Some marriages are meant to degrade...

      February 3, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      probably the same person who spelled genius wrong....moron....

      February 3, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
  3. Susan

    I think it can be the other way, too. It's very frustrating to be the fit spouse when the non-fit spouse can't join in activities.

    February 2, 2011 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      they will eventually split off and do their own thing...not all bad.

      February 3, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  4. Grant Strong

    I'm a personal trainer and have seen many married coupes have the 'For fitter or fatter' fight. One of them would be all exctied to get healthy and fit. The other wanted nothing to do with it. I found out as time went on the non-active spouse would try to sabotage the other. It was very sad an not very productive. Check out my health and fitness blog http://www.GrantStrong.com

    February 2, 2011 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      working on your own health is more of an individual sport. even if you go with friends...rare that your body would be doing the same thing at the same time...note bicyclists...always in different places. they can run together for a while, drafting and such, but carbs hit each person at different times.

      February 3, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • HypMama

      I lost a lot of weight and my husband was very supportive, yet did not sabotage me or exercise with me... once I started dropping weight and looking a lot better, he went & bought running shoes and started asking me which options were healthier when we went out to eat..
      I think that exercise and eating healthy are considered "bad words" in our society... (2/3 of us are obese or overweight). Sometimes, you DO have to go your own way and hope your partner will follow... It is terrible that a spouse would sabotage the other, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, we can learn from each other... which is what a healthy marriage is made of. 🙂

      February 3, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
  5. Sporky

    I think that if your spouse expects you to give up something like marathon training or is less than supportive of healthy changes, you should probably leave. That just sounds like the hallmark of a horrible person.

    February 3, 2011 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LiBra29

      You would leave just like that, without even talking about it? It's not that cut and dry. Think about this: the spouse training for a marathon also has a full time job with frequent overtime. You realize one day that you haven't gone out for dinner once with your spouse in the past 3 months, the spouse has missed all of your kid's baseball games, and you two rarely talk or get intimate anymore because he/she is "too tired." If I was listed before marathon training on the priority list, I'd be pretty darn mad too.

      February 3, 2011 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • LiBra29

      I meant if I was listed after marathon training on the priority list, not before.

      February 3, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • mwc

      Why is LEAVE the answer? How about discussing it and trying to come to consesus? Amazing how quickly people suggest throwing in the towel. Hopefully, there's more to the marriage vows than that.

      February 3, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse |
  6. billy

    That would suck, having a significant other that is a lazy sack of garbage.

    February 3, 2011 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kleiner delphin

      That would suck, having a spouse think of you like "garbage," because you are too busy or tired to work-out at the gym all the time.

      February 3, 2011 at 05:03 | Report abuse |
    • BadPatient

      it would suck worse if they really had an undiagnosed allergy or infection (yeast, strep, etc) and it makes them tired. more likely an allergy (suspect corn...it's in everything). your body sends histamines...hard to breathe....makes you tired. no way to live. really. and we can't get these food companies to label the product. they are afraid we won't buy their product, but when we do...it makes us sick. its wrong and should be stopped.

      February 3, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
  7. OldKid

    The big problem is when the non-athletic spouse is jealous of the athletic spouse and does her/his best to undermine the other's attempts to be fit. Of course, there are those people who are totally self-centered and do not care about anyone other than themselves, and those who are out exercising all the time to avoid a spouse they don't want to be with. I'm super-athletic, but my wife and kids always come first. My wife has asthma and cannot work out like I can, but I make sure she knows I love her just the way she is, because I do.

    February 3, 2011 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. OldKid

    Hey Billy, not everyone who doesn't work out is a "lazy sack of garbage." Take out the word "lazy", and we might have a fair description of you. Maybe you should change your moniker to "Shallow Hal".

    February 3, 2011 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CFS Facts

      Amen. I don't "work out" because of a health condition that's made worse by exercise. My fat lazy ex's excuse was that he'd only work out if I went with him, knowing that I physically could not do any exercise other than walk slowly, and he intentionally bought cheap uncomfortable shoes so he could refuse to walk more than a few yards because "my feet hurt".

      February 3, 2011 at 08:29 | Report abuse |
  9. Cuddledad

    I am tired of this maternal centric BS. I am a dad and cuddle my little boy too. Is there a problem wit dat?

    February 3, 2011 at 07:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      men have oxytocin also.

      February 3, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • hunnykins

      OMG no, cuddledad, you sound pretty awesome to me. It sucks when I see people ignoring their children or pushing them away when they want attention.

      February 4, 2011 at 00:15 | Report abuse |
  10. BadPatient

    I wonder what the betrayal hormone is? for those of us that trusted and learned not to...the hard way.

    February 3, 2011 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      i wonder if it flips a switch to testosterone (aggressive, or hostile)? protective to the child...

      if oxytocin was the cuddle hormone that makes you trust and want to hug your baby...what is the protective hormone that would rip someones head off if they threatened your baby? and how does that switch get flipped?

      February 3, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
    • BadPatient

      maybe adrenaline

      February 3, 2011 at 09:11 | Report abuse |
  11. Sandy

    My husband is gay, in very good physical shape and handsome. I have no problem with him attracting other men. That way I benefit as well! 🙂

    February 3, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      How do you benefit? Wouldn't it be better if he was just honest with himself and others and not block your path for happiness?

      February 3, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • HmmmOK

      So you get to babysit while he gets laid?

      February 3, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      so get benefited from your husband's lovers.............??

      February 3, 2011 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • Um...Sure...

      Hmmm...not sure which is the lie...that you are, by the tone of your post, happily married to a gay man , or that you benefit from watching him bring home other gay men (which "benefits" you how, exactly?).
      Try to post something at least a little believable.

      February 3, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • BadPatient

      I agree...i don't think its real. if it was s/he would understand that it doesn't benefit them. it's just painful mostly.

      February 3, 2011 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
    • Cherrymama

      So, wait. I don't get it.

      February 3, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • hunnykins

      I have to agree with others posting here, your arrangement makes no sense. Why would you be so happy to settle for playing second fiddle to your husbands casual encounters with other men? It sounds like a unique arrangement, to say the least. Has it occurred to you that as a gay man, your husband is highly likely to find the love of his life that he wants to be with instead of a woman – meaning another man like himself. You sound like a masochist setting yourself up for betrayal. Then again, both myself and my husband are the "exclusive" types.

      February 4, 2011 at 00:32 | Report abuse |
  12. Beth

    Cuddling is epic. I will not listen to anything that claims otherwise!

    February 3, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TWM

      Beth: Cuddling is epic? Been married over 20 years and cuddling is a pain in the a$$. Most guys would prefer to just lay next to their woman and not have body parts hanging on them cramping their space and making it difficult to sleep.

      February 3, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • LiBra29

      Really TWM? Because my husband to be has always loved cuddling. He can't get enough of it! I think he likes it more than I do. Maybe you shouldn't speak for "most men."

      February 3, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • Beth


      My husband enjoys it more than I do. He ALWAYS imitates and can't even fall asleep without holding me. Cuddling = awesome.

      February 3, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
  13. Scott

    There is a difference between overweight and fine with it, and overweight, complaining about it, but not doing anything about it. You should never break up with someone just due to their weight, but if they are unhappy with themselves, but too stubborn to make the effort to get what they want, that is a problem.

    February 3, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      Health care and food industry stand in the way of us being healthy. Don't be too quick to blame the victim in this case. Physicians aren't diagnosing/treating infections (yeast, strep, etc.) so they are unlikely to be able to deal with weight on their own. Infections will keep their blood sugar too high. Your body sends insulin to deal with excess blood sugar, and insulin loves to store fat and hates to let go of fat. VERY difficult to lose weight with infections. Also, a lot of people have undiagnosed allergies and that makes people tired. Often food related (corn is a big one and they put corn in everything...its hard to find food that doesn't make you sick ifyou are allergic to corn...that leads to chronic inflammation...over the long haul, probably damages small vessels. damage is done in the swelling and this just isn't where health care is at right now. its not in their training and they simply don't get it.)

      February 3, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • LiBra29

      BadPatient The problem is being too addicted to TV and the computer and not eating well. I agree, marketing tactics trick people into eating food they think is "healthy." Just look at Subway, many of their "healthy" sandwiches have almost a day's worth of sodium. But if you have access to a computer, you can do research and learn how to cook healthy food and start an exercise plan.

      The majority of people are just too lazy to get off the couch. I understand being tired from working a full day, but come on! Get on a treadmill and just walk. Rent an exercise tape from the library if you don't have a treadmill or access to a gym. It's not hard to work out for 20 minutes per day, 4-5 times a week and to not shove fast food/chips/candy/etc into your face all day.

      February 3, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  14. Jorge

    If you are an able-bodied, shiftless couch-potato, have a spouse who assumes responsibility for his/her health/condition despite the challenges of adult life, attracts the admiration of others and feels good about him/herself, you have no business complaining about it or you need to get out of the way, plain and simple.

    February 3, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Fuyuko

    I am not a big fan of running or marathon training which can cause health problems and I do think marathon work is extreme. There are plenty of less extreme sports such as hiking, swimming etc. Which couples can do together.

    I think if you are an exercise junkie and you marry a couch potato or vice versa, you either need to learn compromise, or you made a bad choice. Especially if they are going to want you to be different than how you are.

    February 3, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      who wants to exercise with their spouse? you guys must be young (idealistic?)

      February 3, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
  16. Tub Of Lard

    The problem with the "I'm too tired to exercise" after a long day of work or whatever is that EXERCISING MAKES YOU MORE ENERGETIC. So it is a matter of willpower, and anyone who wants to be an apologist for people who waste away getting fatter is likewise a coward and an enabler. Get off your lazy fat butt and whip yourself into shape, there are NO EXCUSES.

    February 3, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kleiner delphin

      Nope, I played sports in high school and was exhausted all the time. Joined a gym once and would leave the gym literally yawning. It does not increase everyone's energy.

      February 3, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      I must not be doing it right because it exhausts the crap out of me most of the time.

      February 3, 2011 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      By the way, I am a very slim person, if it makes any difference.

      February 3, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse |
    • lk

      I have more energy now that I have been working out for several months. At first I was exhausted and starving after working out.

      February 3, 2011 at 21:08 | Report abuse |
  17. Alan Stanwyck

    Wingman Pheromones has Oxytocin and it works!!!

    February 3, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Pete the Ninja

    I just sent my fiance an email on oxytocin, and told her the reason she always wants to snuggle is the reason i'm overly hostile. Science to the rescue!

    February 3, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BadPatient

      not to be weird, but is erectile dysfunction an issue? some men hate all of that because it leads them down a path they don't want go down.

      February 3, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • BadPatient

      my experience with that was that they do get hostile. there are good books about that. (He's Just Not Up For It Anymore is one of them) and it didn't appear to be a factor of age...started very young...20's.

      February 3, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • Pete the Ninja

      You're being too serious :P. i was trying to make a humorous observation that the same reason my mrs. always wants to snuggle is the same reason i'm a sour puss sometimes 🙂 I'll find out in a few weeks when we're married if i have ED. (light hearted comment on a serious subject)

      February 3, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Wise Dave

      Pete, if you're sending your fiancee e-mails about why you're hostile when she wants to cuddle, you might want to call off the wedding now and save everyone a lot of money, including yourself... When I add up everything my divorce cost me (alimony, IRAs, marital share of retirement, etc.) it ran about 250K. But you know what they say: Why is divorce so expensive? Because it's worth it! 🙂

      February 3, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
    • Wise Dave

      Oh, and I forgot the 90K in home equity I had to give her to buy out the mortgage... just before the housing market fell in the toilet! Ah, 2005... what a year! Still worth it though!

      February 3, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • BadPatient

      I'm with WiseDave...this stuff gets complicated, and not fun. if your gut is telling you something...listen.

      February 3, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • hunnykins

      @Wisedave – You break down the financial aspect of what it cost you to divorce your spouse. Wow, that was an expensive lesson for you! Too bad you didn't have the sense to know she wasn't right for you in the first place. But, over a third of a million dollars later, I'm glad you see the bright side of things.

      February 4, 2011 at 00:48 | Report abuse |
  19. DCM

    Usually the men who dont want to cuddle, have bricks in their heads. Im glad my boyfriend and I cuddle at night, its a good loving feeling that I would be insane to turn down!! Who wouldnt want to be close to their partner anyway? Oh wait, those are the people who shouldnt be in a relationship together to begin with.

    February 3, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. umm

    I never know when people are making things up or telling the truth in these postings...So, I assume it's all lies..

    February 3, 2011 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Parker

    This had to be the result of a woman. A 'cuddle' hormone? Give me a break. Only a woman would offer such crap. And the 'for fitter or fatter' section proves it. Again, only a woman would complain about being an exercise widow, and read between the lines, '"just accept me for what I am" or "I am really beautiful on the inside". Women in the USA, what they need is to address their narcissism. It is always about what they WANT, to cuddle, the toilet seat, to be fat and not be responsible, gotta go I am nauceous.

    February 3, 2011 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • hunnykins

      It's not "nauceous," it's "nauseous." But I think you mean to say "nauseated," which indicates a feeling the sensation of being queasy. "Nauseous" is an adjective referring to something that causes nausea. So coincidentally you DID use the correct word. Signed, a narcissistic know-it-all.

      February 4, 2011 at 00:52 | Report abuse |
  22. cindysue

    I only scrolled down a little to find this much deterioration. Sad.

    February 4, 2011 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. devildog

    Pop science makes me sad.

    February 4, 2011 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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