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Neuroscience and attachment: a human difference?

Posted on January 31, 2013 by James Kohl.

Neuroscience of Human Attachment Source: Brain Posts [Neuroscience Medicine] http://brainposts.blogspot.it/

Excerpt: Social behavior appears to regulated through both affective evaluation (emotional mentalization) and cognitive control systems (cognitive mentalizations).  These systems interact with hormonal and neurotransmitter domains in influencing social interactions.

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Vrtička, P., & Vuilleumier, P. (2012). Neuroscience of human social interactions and adult attachment style Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00212

First line of their introduction: “In mammals, including humans, attachment is a major dimension of behavior that can come into play in several domains (Fisher et al., 2006).”

Later: “As mentioned above, the neuroscientific investigation of attachment in humans has just recently begun.”

Their citation is to: H.E. Fisher et al., (2006). Romantic love: a mammalian brain system for mate choice. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 361, 2173–2186.

H.E. Fisher (1995) “This is science at its best, with adventure, ideas, and lots of facts… You will never look at your lover or your family the same way again.” —  from the cover of “The Scent of Eros: Mysteries of Odor in Human Sexuality” by James V. Kohl and Robert T. Francoeur.

Their conclusion: “Future investigations need to deepen our knowledge of the neural mechanisms involved in different facets of attachment, its development (brain activation patterns related to attachment in childhood and adolescence and their transition into adulthood) and its malleability by new experiences and learning, including at the level of gene-environment interactions. We believe that this endeavor will be made possible by using an interdisciplinary approach based on neuroimaging, genetic, and psychological investigations in humans, as well as innovative studies on animal models of social behaviors, as effectively illustrated by many recent advances in social neuroscience.”

My comment: Adaptive evolution is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled in species from microbes to man. Which animal model of neuroscience and attachment that includes social behavior is best suited for application that supports advances in social neuroscience? Am I biased by the development of my own model, since 1995, in this context, or are others (Helen Fisher and a few others excepted) simply biased against it?

Is there another animal model that deserves more consideration? What about birds, like the great white egret? Are we more like birds than other mammals?

Kohl, J.V. (2012) Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 2: 17338.

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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