Friday, February 18, 2011

Monogamy, Prairie Voles, You, and I

Doing my Feb Of Love research, I came across an interesting article that spoke about Prarie Voles. A Neuroendrochrenologist named Sue Carter  studied these animals curious as to why the Prarie Voles stayed monogamously attached for life after mating.

"Less than 5% of mammals show monogamous bi-parental behaviors" 

As it turns out the Monogamous Voles have Oxytocin receptors that also overlap with Dopamine receptors in the  "rewards" part of their brain also known as the Nucleus Accumbens. As we already know, the dopamine released in our brains when having sex is what excites us and makes us want more of it,  and Oxytocin is what allows us to form bonds. So, the monogamous Prarie Voles are basically wired to find monogamy pleasurable. Their very similar yet promiscuous counterparts (the Montane Voles) have oxytocin receptors located elsewhere in the brain, so they form no attachment when they mate.

"Like those of the Prarie Voles, human oxytocin receptors are located in several dopamine rich regions of the brain , suggesting that oxytocin is embedded in our rewards circutry." 

During sex, the female releases many chemicals one of which is oxytocin. The estrogen in women increases the effects of the oxytocin, resulting in more emotional attachments to situations like sexual intercourse, childbirth and breastfeeding. Basically, the way this chemical reacts in women's brains is one of the things that distinguish us from males. Mens brains release the same chemical, but the testosterone counterbalances the effects of the oxytocin, and allows men not to become highly attached  in certain situations.

Hmmn, are more like Montane cute :)



  1. all this time i kept reading oxycotin. haha. god i wish.

  2. holly shit!!!! a love drug!!!! now the you want your love to be real or some test tube fantasy.