How dads bond with toddlers: Brain scans link oxytocin to paternal nurturing

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | Feb. 20, 2017

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The findings show that "fathers, and not just mothers, undergo hormonal changes that are likely to facilitate increased empathy and motvation to care for their children," says Emory anthropologist James Rilling.

Fathers given boosts of the hormone oxytocin show increased activity in brain regions associated with reward and empathy when viewing photos of their toddlers, an Emory University study finds.  

“Our findings add to the evidence that fathers, and not just mothers, undergo hormonal changes that are likely to facilitate increased empathy and motivation to care for their children,” says lead author James Rilling, an Emory anthropologist and director of the Laboratory for Darwinian Neuroscience. “They also suggest that oxytocin, known to play a role in social bonding, might someday be used to normalize deficits in paternal motivation, such as in men suffering from post-partum depression.”

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