Oxytocin Plays Role in the Most Basic Form of Empathy in Zebrafish

Oxytocin plays an essential role in the spread of fear in zebrafish, according to a new study, the results of which suggest a deeply conserved role for the hormone in emotional contagion--the basal form of empathy--among vertebrates like fish. “The apparent concordance between mammals and fish of how oxytocin regulates empathetic behavior raises the intriguing possibility that the mechanisms underlying empathy and some forms of emotional contagion may have been conserved since fish and mammals last shared a common ancestor, ~450 million years ago,” write Ross DeAngelis and Hans Hofmann in a related Science Perspective piece. The research article was published on March 23, 2023 in Science and is titled “Evolutionarily Conserved Role of Oxytocin in Social Fear Contagion in Zebrafish.”
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