Social Interaction and the ‘Bliss Molecule’
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Social Interaction and the ‘Bliss Molecule’

Why do we like talking to people? Of course, not everybody DOES. But most of
us enjoy interacting with other human beings at least occasionally. It just…feels good. But WHY? Why does it feel good? Well, according to research published this
week, it’s because of a compound that’s released in a part of your brain that controls
motivation and reward, in response to social interaction. Biologists often call this compound “the
bliss molecule,” but it’s actually a lot like … pot. It all begins with a hormone and neurotransmitter,
that we’ve told you about before: Oxytocin. It’s been found to promote trust, relaxation,
psychological stability, and romantic attachment; as well as help women give birth. It even plays a role in that bond you feel
between you and your dog. But it’s most famous for its role in making
you care about other people. High oxytocin levels are most often observed
in women during breastfeeding, between couples in the first six months of a relationship,
as well as during and after sex. Previous studies have shown that people who
have been given extra doses of oxytocin are better at detecting emotional cues in facial
expressions. They also express greater concern for, and
sexual attraction to, their partners, and show fewer signs of attraction to anybody
else. How oxytocin does all this stuff, however,
was something of a mystery. But we now know that a key player is anandamide. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid. That means
it activates the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. And if you think that sounds like ‘cannabis,’
there’s a reason for that. The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, which
attaches to the same receptors in your brain, and, socially, it has pretty similar effects. It makes you feel less hostile, and also makes
you really want to talk to people…like, about anything. Maybe about that cool dream
you had, or about how clouds are, like, totally incredible. An international group of neuroscientists
found that social contact made the brains of mice produce more anandamide. Meaning,
being around other mice was rewarding them by making them feel calm and fulfilled, as
well as making them want to be around other mice even more. They did this by isolating the mice first
for 24 hours. Then, half the mice were reunited with all of their mouse-friends, and the other
half stayed in isolation. The mouse brains were then removed and flash-frozen,
so that they could be tested for anandamide. They also looked at mice that were missing
a gene that codes for the enzyme that breaks down anandamide. When given a choice between two kinds of bedding,
those mice tended to prefer the type they’d had in a cage with other mice, even though
they’d spent the same amount of time with the other type, in a cage by themselves. Mice who had the usual set of genes — and
therefore could break down anandamide — didn’t choose the social bedding as often. So oxytocin triggers the production of anandamide,
which stimulates the cannabinoid receptors, which makes you feel chill and good about
being around other people. The researchers hope that this discovery can
be used to help treat certain kinds of social anxiety, or even the social effects of some
autism disorders. So that’s what makes you happy. Here’s
something that’ll probably make you sad. We’re all tired of hearing how bad it is
to eat sugar. I mean…it’s delicious! And if you cut back on calories elsewhere,
you can afford to have that candy bar, right…? I mean…calories are calories! Turns out, no, they’re not. In a paper published this week in the journal
Obesity, researchers at UC San Francisco showed that sugar isn’t necessarily bad for you
because it has so many calories; it’s just bad for you because it’s sugar. They studied 43 young people between the ages
of 9 and 18, all of whom were medically obese and suffering from some kind of metabolic
disorder, like hypertension, or high triglyceride levels, which are a sign of fatty liver. For nine days, the subjects were given food
with the same number of calories that they were used to eating, but with almost no sugar.
And they were not feeding the kids healthy food; this was starchy, fatty food like pizza
and potato chips. The goal was NOT to make them lose weight:
in fact if the subjects started losing weight, the researchers fed them more. Because their
goal was to keep their weight stable, so researchers could see how their bodies responded to no
longer needing to metabolize sugar. And in just nine days – again, eating the
SAME number of calories as they always ate, and staying at the same weight – the subjects’
health improved across the board. Their blood pressure decreased, their cholesterol levels
went down, their blood sugar and insulin levels dropped dramatically, and their liver function
got better. Because, It turns out, your body doesn’t
metabolize all calories in the same way. Sugar turns to fat in your liver, where too much
of that fat can lead to inflammation and scarring. So, I know you’ve heard it a thousand times,
but…maybe stay away from the candy bars. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
News, and thanks especially to all of our patrons on Patreon who make this show possible.
If you want to help us keep making videos like this, just go to­.
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100 thoughts on “Social Interaction and the ‘Bliss Molecule’

  1. You guys should have said fructose or sucrose instead of just plain generic sugar. Glucose is fine and doesn't mess up the body like fructose does. This makes people afraid of the wrong things and spreads misinformation.

  2. I really can't understand people anymore!!!!! The whole sugar thing is just making me want to jump off a building!!!! NO SHIT!!!!!!!! Sugar is bad for you no matter what and it always has been, but we love it and are in denial and choose to be idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Salt is the same way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have we all seriously forgotten the shit we were taught in grade school that we came from these other some what primitive beings and until we learned how to get and use sugar and salt in our food we ate fruits and vegetables and some meat. Hey guess what you have to get off your ass and move your body too a fair amount to be healthy and live longer too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even if you're not over weight you need to get off your butt and exercise!!!!!!!!!!! Why why why are people still needing to be told this shit and why do we keep saying it like we just found out we are killing ourselves with this garbage we keep putting in our mouths!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. The bliss molecule is cool and interesting for sure, and Micheal is so cute and funny!!!! ^^ But I can't believe we as a human race keep wasting our time on shit like finding out what salt and sugar does to us!!!! We know already!!!!!!!!!!! Now go try and fix some diseases instead!!!!!! That are probably half being caused by this processed, fake food we eat in our fake shitty society!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. "Stay away from sugar!" Unless you're like me, and can occasionally die if you don't get enough of it! (No more Jam sandwiches for me! After I almost went into a coma… I found out they're all bloody "low sugar"… well done, food industry. Because fitness is now "Hip" and "Trendy", I can't have a Jam sandwich! xP)

  5. So I SHOULD be able to keep my phone out at work and check it frequently – – keeps me a happy employee!

  6. good thing i dont like most candy then. doesnt help me lose weight, but at least i dont tend to eat sugary stuff too often.

  7. Yeah, but the people in the study were all obese and had a variety of health problems. This doesn't mean sugar acts the same way in people that are normal and of average weight. The brain alone uses 120 grams of sugar a day. How can that be toxic?

  8. That study is full is full of flaws, no control group, only 43 participant, obese kids, which is a very specific sample the fact that they did almost all did lost weight in the first few days may alone explain the result, maybe the food they reported eating (and thus ate during the study) was different than what they actually ate.

  9. "Half the mice were reunited with all of their mouse friends" – awww! – "The mouse brains were then removed…" … this is no longer cute.

  10. White sugar have only been around since late 1800, back then one small back of sugar, was what everyone in england had in total.
    nowadays we are drowning in this "white drug" will wondering what's making us fat.

  11. I have autism and I've been smoking weed to help me cope with socialization for about a decade now. Nice ending where you grabbed a candy bar to show your concerns. XD

  12. Cutting down on sugar is so hard, especially when you opportunistically eat cookies/sweets while out during the day because you're not good enough at time management to bring a homemade sandwich every day.

  13. AND… if you can go 30 days without sugar, you'll crave it less and less. Pretty soon, the sweets aren't calling your name as much. It's addicting, and you crave it. Food manufacturers know this, and add additional sugar to the foods that sell the best. Even though the recipes don't necessarily call for sugar. There's over 57 different words for sugar used by the food industry. Once you start to recognize them, you'll start to see that many of the foods you love have sometimes up to 4-5 separate listings of sugar, just under other names like Maltodextrin, Maltose, Dextrose, Glucose, Sucrose, Inverted, Refined, Lactose, Cane Juice, Molasses, Honey and HFCS just to name a few.
    If you crave something sweet, eat a piece of fruit. Seriously… a handful of Strawberries only contain 7 grams of sugar (Which is the good kind of sugar, because it's paired with it's own fiber to aid in metabolism and breakdown) But a single can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar! You'd basically have to eat the entire Costco sized package of Strawberries in one sitting to get as much sugar as they cram in a soda. And who drinks just a 12oz soda these days? Think about it…
    And a Grande Frap contains nearly 50 grams of sugar! Don't most people order a Venti anyway?

  14. ok, so sugar is totaly shity for you. SO PLEASE, SCHOOLS, STOP GIVING US FAT FREE SHIT!!! everyone knows that when you remove the fat, you have to replace it with sugar, or else it will taste like shit, so yeah, stop it. you aren't helping.

  15. SciShow, I love how you make a point of NOT getting all "don't eat/do this!!" when it comes to sugar and such in your videos. It's important to know what power you have over people and understand how it can affect them, and you certainly know what you are doing.

  16. I'm a grad student at MUSC, and we recently had Louk Vanerschuren visit from University of Utrecht. He does a lot of research on this stuff, specifically, the role of nonapepties, endorphins, and endocannabinoids in social interaction, and subsequently, the role social interaction plays in addictive behaviors for food, drugs, etc. Anyone who likes this video should google him

  17. Well, if you really wanted to stay away from sugar, you'd stay away from processed foods and cereals with sugar in them. And that tastes pretty bland, unless you remove wheat completely from your diet so you wouldn't need to eat cereal. If you drink alcohol, yeah, that means you need to keep away from that. Juice beverages also have an absolute whacktonne of sugar, and fast food places are known for putting sugar in places that you'd never expect to facilitate some addiction to their foodstuffs.

    So uhm… I suppose that means the absolute best diet you can have is a mix of steamed and raw vegetables, mixed with rice and beans with nuts. Any suggestions to make eating not so boring ?

  18. So marihuana makes one more faithful to ones partner and more social?
    More pot for everyone, please!
    Morality and social-friendly behavior are at stake!

  19. go into any grocery store in this country, hell most other first world countries too, and work up a ratio of high sugar foods available to low or no sugar foods available. then compare cost between the high and low sugar foods. sure in the end we all are responsible for the decisions we make day to day, but are we holding the distributors accountable enough? after all we punish drug dealers as well as drug users don't we? we should change how we approach food but change is also deeply needed in the marketing of the food also

  20. Oooh man, i was always told about how bad sugar can be for me…and i have tried to quit it, but i think i'm adicted to it.
    then i'll eat it once a week if possible, i mean it's really hard to run from it, given that many of daily use products have added sugar.

  21. I gotta be missing this chemical… lol, this is Asperger's in a nutshell.

    Also the sugar calorie stuff is old news. I thought everybody knew that.

  22. Question: Does it depend on where the sugar comes from? Because I drink these smoothie things every day and each bottle has approximately 109 grams of sugars. I drink about 2 of those every single day, which I have been drinking for years, along with eating my normal daily meals. But I'm healthy, and definitely not obese.

  23. Heh. My first thought when they strted talking about oxytocin making people better at recognizing facial expressions was whether it would help people with autism spectrum disorders. And it went there (though with the anandamide).

    Was the sugar test just cutting out refined sugars, or would fruit cause the same problem? That would be odd…

  24. So what happens as to why this doesn't work with anti-social people? What about people with mental disorders?

  25. So you're telling me sugar makes you fat but my doctor says that I should eat less sugar so I can gain weight?

  26. Judging by the way Michael is eating that candy bar perhaps he was indulging in a little bit of cannabinoid containing substances himself. 😏

  27. Mice were like "hey guys, so happy to see you all"

    Scientist was like "good, now I will kill you all and freeze your brains"

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