Oxytocin has established a reputation as the "love hormone," playing a significant role in sexual arousal and maternal bonding. But a new study claims there may be a darker side to oxytocin; the way it influences our actions is comparable to the effects of alcohol. "Dr. Ian Mitchell, of the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and colleagues publish their findings in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. Produced by the hypothalamus in the brain and secreted into the bloodstream by the posterior pituitary gland, oxytocin is a hormone and a brain neurotransmitter that controls lactation and contraction of the womb during childbirth. Oxytocin is also known to influence emotional, cognitive and social behaviors, including maternal bonding, sexual arousal, anxiety, fear and trust. According to Dr. Mitchell and colleagues, oxytocin increases behaviors such as altruism, empathy and generosity, making us more willing to trust others, while suppressing prefrontal and limbic cortical circuit activity in the brain to reduce anxiety, fear and stress. Since alcohol can also trigger such behaviors, the team set out to determine whether alcohol and oxytocin have similar effects on the brain."