The psychobiology of emotion: the role of the oxytocinergic system

  • Kerstin Uvnäs-MobergEmail author
  • Ingemar Arn
  • David Magnusson


A necessary condition for the individual’;s survival is the capacity for mental, behavioral, and physiological adaptation to external and internal conditions. Consequently, the integrated organism strives to maintain a dynamic, functional balance and integrity under varying conditions. Effective individual adaptation processes are basically dependent on the functioning of the integrated psychophysiological system.

In humans, the brain plays a fundamental role in these processes. It serves the adaptation of individuals to current and anticipated conditions by selecting, interpreting, and transforming information into mental, behavioral, and physiological responses. In doing so, the incoming information is linked to existing structures of emotions, values, and goals. Consequently, the interpretation of external information may vary and become subjective depending on an individual’s present and past experiences (see e.g., Magnusson, 2003).

Hitherto, empirical research has been mainly concerned with the aspect of the psychophysiological system, which is activated in situations that are perceived by the individual as threatening, harmful, or demanding and in which the fight—flight and stressresponsesdescribedbyCannon(1929)andSelye(1976)playanimportantrole. The aim of this article is to draw attention to a component of the psychophysiological system, the calm and connection system, underlying well-being and socialization. By including this new system, the model of the integrated individual becomes more complete and it enriches the understanding of emotional aspects of brain functioning.

Key words

calmness connection response oxytocin emotions positive development 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ingemar Arn
    • 1
  • David Magnusson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Division of PharmacologyKarolinska Institutet StockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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