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Bioessays. 2005 Sep;27(9):869-73.

Peptides of love and fear: vasopressin and oxytocin modulate the integration of information in the amygdala.

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  • 1W.M. Keck Foundation Laboratory of Neurobiology, Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin regulate a variety of behaviors ranging from maternal and pair bonding to aggression and fear. Their role in modulating fear responses has been widely recognized, but not yet well understood. Animal and human studies indicate the major role of the amygdala in controlling fear and anxiety. The amygdala is involved in detecting threat stimuli and linking them to defensive behaviors. This is accomplished by projections connecting the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) to the brain stem and to hypothalamic structures, which organize fear responses. A recent study by Huber et al demonstrates that vasopressin and oxytocin modulate the excitatory inputs into the CeA in opposite manners. Therefore this finding elucidates the mechanisms through which these neuropeptides may control the expression of fear.

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