The recreational drug MDMA ("ecstasy"), and a variety of related drugs, have been described as empathogen-entactogens. These agents possess powerful serenic and empathy-increasing properties in addition to their euphoriant effects, and have been associated with increased sociability, friendliness, feelings of closeness to others, increased emotional empathy, and increased prosocial behavior. The empathogenic effects of these drugs are thought to be related to their ability to temporarily increase the levels of certain brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and, especially, oxytocin. Other serotonergic drugs, such as 5-HT1A receptor agonists, may also possess serenic properties.
Agonists and antagonists of the receptors for the endogenous hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, respectively, have been shown to decrease aggressive behavior in scientific research, implicating them in the normal regulation of pathways involving aggressive behavior in the brain. Certain neurosteroids, such as allopregnanolone, also appear to play a role in the regulation of aggression, including, notably, sexually-dimorphic aggressive behavior.
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