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Effects of Social Situations on Neurotransmitters and Hormones

  1. Apr 13, 2013 #1
    Does anybody know of any studies that effect how society regulates neurotransmitters and/or hormones in the body; especially long term. Specifically any studies about how they (especially neurotransmitters) regulate in social groups. Its a theory I have and I'd like to see if there is anything to back it up.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2013 #2
  4. Apr 19, 2013 #3
    Hi graps50, your question in my mind is worded in a way that is not obvious in it's focus. However, I for one on this site am willing to try to read between the lines to address what I think is your question and try to answer it to the best of my abilities. Perhaps some further discourse in this thread can isolate your true inquiry or else evidence that you need to do some more personal resarch before posting a question as Yanick seems to have alluded to.

    Neurotransmitters are chemicals that affect the membrane polarity of neurons in the transmission of signals within the nervous system. The principal neurotransmitters in the CNS are norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, know collectively as the monoamines. There is also glutamate, an exitatory transmitter, and GABA, and inhibitory interneuron transmitter, and a few other minor players. Society, per se, doesn't regulate these transmitters, as these are naturally occuring, other than perhaps the secondary regulation of their precursor products that may be regulated by the FDA (in the usa). If you meant, on the other hand, how social interactions between peoples in a society regulate these transmitters, then this is a more complicated question. However, you can generally say that the monoamines are involved in flight or flight and reward-punishment effects in the brain. They are also involved in protien synthesis for synapse modification in memory consolidation along with acetylcholine. But specific effects as far as societal interactions are hard to quantify.

    As far as hormones, there are many that are thought to selectively sensitize certian neural circuits throuhout the brainstem largely via the hypothalamus-pituitary complex, at least in vertebrates. This is a somewhat complex subject outside the scope of this post. I recommend reviewing some of Larry Swanson's work from UCIrvine.

    To leave you with some positive direction for study, however, look at the neuromodulator oxytocin, which has been involved in pair bonding and therefore has been very reliably linked to social interactions, including "love," and therefore may be implicated in many contemporary socially relavent political issues involving gangs, religions etc. Good luck, and I welcome clarification if I am not reading your question succesfully.
  5. Apr 20, 2013 #4
    Alright thanks. Ya, I was trying to ask if there are any studies out on how social interactions change the level of different neurotransmitters. This is for research for a theory I have that they do appear to regulate among people as they come together in a group (because of how they seem to act similar to each other). Apparently I explained myself poorly.

    I have put a rather extensive amount of time into finding any research that would help prove or disprove my hypothesis, but I couldn't find any. Anyways, thank you for your help!
  6. Apr 20, 2013 #5
    I've been trying not to say anything since I saw this. But this is, frankly, rude IMO. You could have just asked if I had looked it up (which I agree would have been stupid and lazy if I hadn't) instead of actually spending the time to make this link just to be insulting.

    Come on now...
  7. Apr 20, 2013 #6
    Ok, I get more now what you are asking. In addition to Swansons work, I recommend reading Walter Freemans "Societies of brains," published in 1995. I think you will get just about all you are looking for and more from that book. Unless you fear getting scooped on a nobel prize for yielding your hypothesis, you may want to state it here even in a disguised manner if you want to get any more specific help/references. I'm reading that Freeman's discussion of "unlearning" in social groups and the biochemical effects it has on brain function may be the lead you are looking for. Happy hypothesizing!
  8. Apr 20, 2013 #7
    Oxytocin, previously mentioned, has long been known to be important in social interactions in mammals, including humans. This study shows that a single nucleotide polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor gene affects the social interaction between male and female human subjects. One or two copies of the G allele appears to be associated with a stronger response to positive social interactions.


    There are other receptor systems that are involved in human bonding or the lack of it. For example schizophrenia often is characterized by distinct antisocial or otherwise abnormal social behavior associated with dysfunction of the dopaminergic system among others.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  9. Apr 20, 2013 #8
    "Cerebrospinal fluid measures of neurotransmitter changes associated with pharmacological alteration of the despair response to social separation in rhesus monkeys."

    "Localized and discrete changes in neuropeptide (LHRH and TRH) and neurotransmitter (NE and DA) concentrations within the olfactory bulbs of male mice as a function of social interaction"

    "Intuition and autism: a possible role for Von Economo neurons"

    Here are the titles of the 3rd, 4th and 5th hits on google scholar, found within my link. I'm not sure what you are looking for specifically but there seems to be a lot to read and absorb with the first page of the google results...

    I believe it is a little rude to come on a forum and expect people to do your work for you, the fact is your question is akin to someone asking the people on here to teach them an entire field. Proper research would yield focused questions, not "what do neurotransmitter a do in social situations."
  10. Apr 20, 2013 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    I agree, many times people that ask such broad questions either don't look or don't know how to look. In either case showing them how to do an appropriate search with meaningful results is very helpful, more helpful than having someone else google for you and feed you the answers/links. I find it hard to believe that you, grafs, could not have googled the answers you've been given, which is exactly what the people that gave you responses did.
    Last edited: May 4, 2013
  11. May 3, 2013 #10
    Thank you everybody that has helped me with this question, especially diracpool for that very long and informative answer. None of the links that were posted were in fact what I was searching for, which I was I asked if anyone knew of any information. I did not ask for anybody to search google for me. I'm fairly sure now that studies either have not or cannot be done to test the possibility of my question, or there is faulty reasoning in it.
  12. May 4, 2013 #11
    What type of study are you looking for? Maybe if you try and state your hypothesis we can be more helpful. For now it seems like you want to know how neurotransmitters are regulated as a function of social interaction. I'm no expert in the field but I'm sure there has been a ton of work done on this, maybe not by isolating humans (due to ethics), but I'm sure animal models have been used.

    More often than not you will not find a study which has experiments which are identical to the situation you may have in your head. You likely would need to read lots of different papers and make inferences based on the different experiments performed.

    Do you have access to scientific journals? Have you looked through the google scholar results? You might have to settle for a rat model or something but that doesn't mean it won't be helpful. Also if you really can't find any other work out there which addresses your question, contact a lab and start a dialogue. Maybe you'll win the Nobel.
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