Closure Optional Episode 34 – Social Masturbator cum Neuroscientist, Me

*UPDATED* – Holy shit you guys this was a monster – I was sick of telling the story about the time I masturbated in the woods with a bunch of strangers, but I managed to get it out of me finally in an entertaining and hopefully enriching way for you, and I’ve added some educational tidbits too because I felt cheap and gross* just talking about sex stuff without also giving you something neat to think about. I discuss the neurochemistry of connection, how our brains develop the ability to manage those chemicals, and how we can actively change the structure of our brain by hugging people and cumming on their faces. Probably not so much that last thing. Thank you, as always for listening!

*Note – the main reason I felt (and still feel) cheap and gross about the podcast is that I’ve realised in hindsight, and after talking to Victoria about it, I’ve come across very cynical, sarcastic, and judgemental, despite repeatedly saying that I wasn’t trying to be a cunt, I still was… Victoria is coming back on the podcast to discuss this episode, and some of the major projecting I’m doing (unfairly) to the other girls because I felt like a dickhead doing something so far out of my comfort zone. It’s their fault I’m uncomfortable, right? I’m sorry, also, if you’re one of those girls and I turned you into a cartoon for the sake of being “funny” – I can’t know why anyone does anything, and it was unkind of me to caricatureize real people who can’t defend themselves.


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Show Notes:


Note: The link for each study is at the BOTTOM of each list of points/extracts. Eg: the first 6 points can be found in the study listed at #7.


  1. Changes in behaviour – risk taking and less cautious compared to others reared normally.
  2. Stressed moms raised their kids normally, but their sons had the same shitty risk-taking behaviour from the stress their mom had. Once raised by a control mom, they could reduce the effects, so it might be in their milk etc.
  3. makes the animals unable to carefully evaluate unknown territories, and assess risk. We show further, that these alterations are transmitted to the following generation even in the absence of  any further exposure to stress.
  4. The mild behavioral deficits resulting from unpredictable MS alone are more pronounced when separation is aggravated by concomitant unpredictable maternal stress, suggesting that stress has a cumulative effect on behavioral responses. Unpredictability of MS is also likely to exacerbate the behavioral defects, consistent with the previous observation that chronic stress in adult rats or mice is more detrimental when unpredictable than when predictable
  5. The fact that F2 MSUS pups raised by F1 control dams, but not F2 control pups raised by F1 MSUS dams, had an immediate decrease in weight that persisted into adulthood indicates that F2 MSUS mice did react to cross-fostering itself, suggesting the possibility that some epigenetic marks may have been disrupted as well.
  6. In humans, the inability to properly respond to danger and evaluate one’s environment, and impaired behavioral control, are major symptoms of several behavioral and psychiatric disorders such as personality disorders, antisocial behaviors, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and drug addiction
  8. In a further study of voluntary ethanol consumption, we found that adult mice that had experienced MS showed greater cumulative 20% ethanol consumption in an intermittent access paradigm compared to controls. Our data confirm that the MS paradigm can reduce cognitive flexibility in mice and may enhance risk for substance abuse.
  10. The results of this dissertation suggest that altering the early social environment by means of the maternal separation procedure can disrupt the ability to recognize conspecific odor cues, which are fundamental components in establishing and maintaining social relationships later in life.


  1. Changes in receptors in hippocampus – regulates memory and plays a role in depression and   anxiety.
  2. We found a significant loss of neurons in the dentate gyrus (hippocampus) in MS mice compared to controls. Apparently a single maternal separation can impact the number of neurons in mouse hippocampus either by a decrease of neurogenesis or as an increase in neuron apoptosis.
  4. While oxytocin KO and WT females display pregnancy block in response to an unfamiliar male, as expected, only oxytocin KO females display a social memory deficit by blocking pregnancy when a familiar male (their previous mate) is encountered after a 24 hour separation (Wersinger et al., 2008). Interestingly, continuously paired oxytocin KO females do not pregnancy block, likely because with constant exposure, they do not have the opportunity to ‘forget’ their mates.
  5. indicating that they fail to recognise the familiar mouse and are unable to discriminate between the familiar and novel mouse
  6. Administering oxytocin appears to affect some behaviors that are features of autism. Infusion of Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, decreases repetitive behaviors in autistic adults (Hollander et al., 2003). Adults with autism or Asperger’s syndrome also exhibit enhanced memory for affective speech after intravenous oxytocin administration
  7. improves the ability to infer the mental state of others from social cues in the eye region (Domes et al., 2007). This increase in scanning the eye region may raise feelings of empathy by providing more social information and thus a greater subsequent understanding of social cues.
  9. This is a group of articles about Oxytocin in relation to social pair-bonding (including the one that Rhonda Patrick is talking about on JRE with the voles) We emphasize the significance of the conserved oxytocin neural system in mother-infant bond information, with several studies having shown that oxytocin plays a fundamental role in establishing this bond (Kendrick, 2000; Young et al., 2001; Wang and Aragona, 2004; Young and Wang, 2004).
  10. Although there was no significant correlation between oxytocin levels during pregnancy and MFAS scores, the group having increasing oxytocin patterns during pregnancy tended to show higher MFAS scores. Feldman et al. (2007) examined maternal plasma oxytocin levels at the same points as those used in Levine’s study along with analysis of maternal representations and maternal behaviors in the first postpartum month. Oxytocin levels in early pregnancy and postpartum correlated significantly with attachment representation and maternal behaviors, such as gaze at infants, affectionate touch, and frequent infant checking. Feldman and colleagues also focused on mother-infant behavioural synchrony and showed a correlation between maternal salivary and plasma oxytocin levels and affection synchrony
  11. These results suggest the presence of a clear positive relationship between mothering style and attachment, and oxytocin activity in mothers.
  12. infants whose parents had high oxytocin levels had significantly higher oxytocin level than infants whose parents had relatively low oxytocin levels. A recent study showed that social vocalization from the mother to the daughter stimulates oxytocin release and reduces stress responses in humans (Seltzer et al., 2010). These results suggest that social signals from the mother stimulate the oxytocin system in infants.
  13. plasma oxytocin levels of young adults had a significant correlation with their maternal and paternal care, which was measured by self-report (Parental Bonding Instrument). Meinlschmidt and Heim (2007) targeted young adults who had experienced early childhood trauma by divorce or separation of parents at an age of less than 13 years. They measured salivary cortisol levels after the nasal administration of either oxytocin or placebo. In the control group, oxytocin administration decreased cortisol levels; however, this was not the case in the divorce/separation experienced group.

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