Rick Heller - Loving-Kindness on the Brain
An interview from the New Humanist, from Harvard. Dr. Zak is the author of the new book, The Moral Molecule, a fascinating exploration of how science (and chemicals) makes us moral (or not), how loneliness can kill us, and how our makeup determines how we interact with each other. Check out his popular Ted talk This is from the New Humanist newsletter.
In experiments run over the last 10 years, in my lab and in the field, we've shown that the brain chemical oxytocin is released when someone is nice to us in objective ways (for example, when a stranger shares money with us). Oxytocin is the mammalian signal that tells mothers (and in some species fathers) to care for their offspring. It is the chemical basis for parental love. What we've shown is that oxytocin release is stimulated by acts of kindness or trust by complete strangers. The feeling people get when their brains release oxytocin is one of empathy or emotional connection.