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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Nov;73:244-251. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.08.010. Epub 2016 Aug 11.

Common variant in OXTR predicts growth in positive emotions from loving-kindness training.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #3270, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.
2
Department of Psychology and Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, The Ohio State University, 100G Lazenby Hall, 1827 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.
3
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #3270, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA. Electronic address: blf@unc.edu.

Abstract

Ample research suggests that social connection reliably generates positive emotions. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide implicated in social cognition and behavior, is one biological mechanism that may influence an individual's capacity to extract positive emotions from social contexts. Because variation in certain genes may indicate underlying neurobiological differences, we tested whether several SNPs in two genes related to oxytocin signaling would show effects on positive emotions that were context-specific, depending on sociality. For six weeks, a sample of mid-life adults (N=122) participated in either socially-focused loving-kindness training or mindfulness training. During this timespan they reported their positive emotions daily. Five SNPs within OXTR and CD38 were assayed, and each was tested for its individual effect on daily emotions. The hypothesized three-way interaction between time, training type, and genetic variability emerged: Individuals homozygous for the G allele of OXTR rs1042778 experienced gains in daily positive emotions from loving-kindness training, whereas individuals with the T allele did not experience gains in positive emotions with either training. These findings are among the first to show how genetic differences in oxytocin signaling may influence an individual's capacity to experience positive emotions as a result of a socially-focused intervention.

KEYWORDS:

Affective science; Genetics; Meditation; Oxytocin; Positive psychology; Vantage sensitivity

PMID:
27543885
PMCID:
PMC5359600
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.08.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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