The neurobiology of attachment

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2001 Feb;2(2):129-36. doi: 10.1038/35053579.


It is difficult to think of any behavioural process that is more intrinsically important to us than attachment. Feeding, sleeping and locomotion are all necessary for survival, but humans are, as Baruch Spinoza famously noted, "a social animal" and it is our social attachments that we live for. Over the past decade, studies in a range of vertebrates, including humans, have begun to address the neural basis of attachment at a molecular, cellular and systems level. This review describes some of the important insights from this work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Oxytocin / metabolism*
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Oxytocin