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10th January 2011

Explain functions of two hormones on behavior, using one or more examples (8 marks)
Hormones are chemical messengers created by the body; they transfer information from one set of cells to another to coordinate the functions of different parts of the body as well as regulate the body’s growth. The endocrine system is made up of glands that produce and secrete these chemical messengers and release them into the blood stream affecting one or several organs throughout the body. The two main hormones that will be discussed are oxytocin and adrenaline. Oxytocin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It plays a role in inducing contractions and is released with touches and hugs. It can be mainly associated with bonding between a mother and her child. Recently many studies have been carried out and oxytocin has been found to be beneficial for reducing anxiety and stress as well as producing feelings of well being, empathy, bonding and sexual arousal. This is mainly the reason why it is referred to as the “love hormone”. Dltzen (2009) conducted study at University of Zurich. Adult couples were randomly assigned into two groups. Group 1 participants were administered oxytocin intra-nasally while group 2 participants received placebo also in a nasal spray. Both groups were asked to discuss a subject they often disagreed about and videotaped it. She then analyzed the effects of the hormone given to couples and found that it reduced levels of the stress hormone Cortisol and increased positive communication behavior, compared to the placebo. Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Adrenaline helps the body to adjust to sudden stress. Adrenaline is released into the blood when a person becomes angry or frightened. It increases the strength and rate of the heartbeat and raises the blood pressure as well as speeding up the conversion of glycogen into glucose, which provides energy to the muscles. These psychological changes are responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Schater and Singer (1962) carried out a study to test the effects of the role of adrenaline. They gave three groups of participant’s adrenaline injections and one group a placebo and then put them into a room with confederate to complete questionnaire and the confederate was acting either happy or sad. Some participants were misled or given no information and the researchers predicted that they would blame their physical state on the situation, therefore reporting higher levels of emotion. Other participants were told the effects of the injection and so would not blame the situation, as they already knew why they felt that way. Participants who were not given information about the injection about their condition reported their feelings as either angry or happy depending on the condition they were in. Schater and Singer (1962) concluded that a stimulus triggers a physiological response, which in this case was an adrenaline release. At the same time the stimulus is interpreted in the brain taking into account previous experiences of similar situations. This outlines the role adrenaline plays in assigning our emotions.