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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 15;106(50):21437-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909579106. Epub 2009 Nov 23.

Oxytocin receptor genetic variation relates to empathy and stress reactivity in humans.

Author information

1
Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. sarina.rodrigues@oregonstate.edu

Abstract

Oxytocin, a peptide that functions as both a hormone and neurotransmitter, has broad influences on social and emotional processing throughout the body and the brain. In this study, we tested how a polymorphism (rs53576) of the oxytocin receptor relates to two key social processes related to oxytocin: empathy and stress reactivity. Compared with individuals homozygous for the G allele of rs53576 (GG), individuals with one or two copies of the A allele (AG/AA) exhibited lower behavioral and dispositional empathy, as measured by the "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test and an other-oriented empathy scale. Furthermore, AA/AG individuals displayed higher physiological and dispositional stress reactivity than GG individuals, as determined by heart rate response during a startle anticipation task and an affective reactivity scale. Our results provide evidence of how a naturally occurring genetic variation of the oxytocin receptor relates to both empathy and stress profiles.

PMID:
19934046
PMCID:
PMC2795557
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0909579106
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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