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Life sciences/Biochemistry/Biomolecules/Hormones/Oxytocin

New discoveries in rats and mice suggest they maintain their memories of each other because of a molecular pathway centered on the “love hormone” oxytocin.

She was 42 when she suffered a stroke, and in the aftermath she was like a prisoner in her own body: conscious and aware, able to hear and feel, but unable to move or communicate. After a decade, she was able to shake her head from side to side, but the prospects for further recovery were bleak. Today, however, thanks to an implant that links her brain to a computer, the neural signals that once guided routine movements have been able to control an on-screen keyboard and guide a robotic arm.

A soldier and a mother may share some interesting brain chemistry, according to a study in the 11 June issue of Science.

The hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin, perhaps best known for its roles in maternal behavior and social bonding, also appears to foster “parochial altruism,” according to Carsten De Dreu of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and colleagues.