ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 85-97.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00085

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


张霞, 雷怡, 王福顺()   

  1. 四川师范大学脑与心理科学研究院, 成都 610066
  • 收稿日期:2021-01-05 出版日期:2022-01-15 发布日期:2021-11-25
  • 基金资助:

The influence of oxytocin, progesterone and estrogen on disgust and its neurophysiological mechanism

ZHANG Xia, LEI Yi, WANG Fushun()   

  1. Institute of Brain and Psychological Sciences, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610066, China
  • Received:2021-01-05 Online:2022-01-15 Published:2021-11-25


厌恶是人和动物最基本的情绪之一, 起源于口腔对苦味(有毒)物质的排斥, 常伴有恶心呕吐和远离诱发刺激的强烈愿望, 具有回避潜在疾病威胁的功能。大量动物和人类研究表明, 催产素、孕激素和雌激素不同程度地影响核心厌恶刺激的感知、核心厌恶情绪的产生与表达、条件性厌恶习得和厌恶表情识别。三种激素主要通过作用于五羟色胺、γ-氨基丁酸、乙酰胆碱和谷氨酸等神经递质受体, 调节杏仁核、脑岛、前扣带回、壳核、梨状皮层、额中回等脑区活动, 影响厌恶加工。未来研究应当在准确测量激素水平和控制实验任务难度的基础上, 探究各激素对不同感觉通道厌恶加工的影响, 及其性别的调节作用; 同时结合脑成像技术和动物行为学, 明确各激素影响厌恶加工的神经内分泌机制。

关键词: 厌恶, 催产素, 孕激素, 雌激素, 神经生理机制


Disgust, as an important basic emotion, is commonly recognized as a toxin (pathogens) avoidance mechanism to protect individuals from diseases, and has far-reaching evolutionary implications and specific physiological mechanisms. Hormones are chemical messengers synthesized and secreted by endocrine cells, which affect the physiological activities of individuals by regulating the metabolism of various tissue cells. A large number of studies have found that the generation and expression of disgust involve many different hormones, including oxytocin, progesterone, estrogens, testosterone, corticosteroids, arginine-vasopressin, etc. These various systems of neuroendocrine regulations make individuals rapidly evaluate and integrate the information related to toxins and pathogen cues, and thus producing appropriate disgust and avoidance behaviors. In the current researches, oxytocin, progesterone and estrogens are the most widely studied hormones in the field of disgust. Based on animal and human researches, this article reviews and summarizes some evidence that the three hormones affect the processing of disgust and their neurophysiological mechanism and predicts future research direction.
Oxytocin is synthesized in the hypothalamus and is widely involved in social cognition and social behaviors, such as attachment. Studies have proved that oxytocin affects the generation and acquisition of disgust based on olfaction and taste, and recognition of disgust expression by regulating the activities of several brain regions such as insula, anterior cingulate gyrus, amygdala, piriform cortex, putamen, and middle frontal gyrus. Among them, oxytocin may participate in disgust learning by modulating the activity of serotonin receptors.
According to the compensatory prophylaxis hypothesis supported by quantities of animal and human researches, progesterone promotes the individuals’ sensitivity of disgust to potentially infectious stimuli, thereby producing avoidance behaviors to reduce the risk of infection. At the same time, progesterone also affects the recognition of disgust expressions, but has no significant effect on the disgust learning of rodents. And amygdala activity is the main brain area affecting the processing of disgust and can be both promoted and inhibited by progesterone in the processing of disgust. Estrogens also play regulatory roles in perception and acquisition of disgust and recognition of facial expression of disgust. The amygdala and the anterior cingulate gyrus may also be the neural substrates that progesterone affects the processing of disgust, but further research will be necessary before we can draw firm conclusions.
It is noteworthy that oxytocin, progesterone and estrogens affect the generation and expression of pathogen disgust to varying degrees, except for moral disgust. This may be because pathogen disgust is more closely related to hormones than moral disgust which has a higher cognitive component, and its physiological basis is more evident in evolution. However, this may be due to current questionnaires used to measure moral disgust making the measurement indicators insensitive enough, which causes no significant effects of the three hormones on moral disgust.
In short, most of the current studies in this field are still confined to describe phenomena and doing correlational research, but know little about its internal mechanisms. Besides, there are still many contradictions in results. Future studies should explore the effects of these hormones on disgust in different sensory channels and consider their moderating roles in different genders by accurately measuring hormone levels and controlling the task difficulties. In addition, researchers can combine neuroimaging technologies with behavioral studies to clarify the neuroendocrine mechanism of these hormones affecting disgust processing.

Key words: disgust, oxytocin, progesterone, estrogen, neurophysiological mechanism