Central nervous system actions of oxytocin and modulation of behavior in humans

Mol Med Today. 1997 Jun;3(6):269-75. doi: 10.1016/S1357-4310(97)01058-7.


The posterior pituitary hormone oxytocin has modulatory effects on neural functioning that are significant to the regulation of behavior. Basic research in animals has established the importance of oxytocin in affiliation, including mating, pair bonding and parenting behaviors. It is also an important regulator of feeding, grooming and responses to stress. The actions of oxytocin in the brain are regulated by gonadal steroid hormones, particularly estrogen. Oxytocin might also influence normal behavior in humans, and dysfunctions in the oxytocin system might be involved in the etiology and expression of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxytocin / physiology*
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / physiology*
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / chemistry
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / physiology


  • Receptors, Oxytocin
  • Oxytocin