“Love Me Tender” ; Hormones and Elvis

 “Love Me Tender” ; Hormones and Elvis

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Research published in the journal Psychology & Psychiatry by researchers interested in a range of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and autism – and looking at human emotions and interactions looked at responses to Elvis Presley’s voice – amongst others – and the way specific hormones are involved.

The researchers from the University of Utah , studied patients with a rare genetic disorder -  Williams syndrome – a condition in which patients, whilst finding it difficult to keep social interactions going, tend to treat everyone as their friend, to the point of running up to total strangers and striking up conversations as though they are old acquaintances.

They have an affinity for music.

But they also experience heightened anxiety, have an average IQ of 60, experience severe spatial-visual problems, and suffer from cardiovascular and other health issues.

The researchers played sufferers and non-sufferers (control) music so that they could study the effects on subjects – as the hormones oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP) were released.

The research, published in PLoS ONE, was the first to reveal new genes that control emotional responses and to show that AVP is involved in the response to music.

Oxytocin - the Love Hormone

Before the music was played, those with Williams syndrome had three times as much oxytocin as those without the syndrome.

After listening to “Love Me Tender” by Elvis, or their favourite music (many were into heavy metal), researchers found that their oxytocin levels had not only increased but begun to bounce among WS participants while among those without WS, both the oxytocin and AVP levels remained largely unchanged as they listened to music.

Interestingly, the oxytocin level in the woman who'd listened to "Love Me Tender" skyrocketed compared to the levels of participants who listened to different music.

The researchers believe the blood analyses strongly indicate that oxytocin and AVP are not regulated correctly in people with WS, and that the behavioral characteristics unique to people with WS are related to this problem.

Lead researcher Julie R. Korenberg, said:

"Our results could be very important for guiding the treatment of these disorders. This shows that oxytocin quite likely is very involved in emotional response."

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