Health + Safety

Study: Oxytocin Helps Stimulate Social Brain Regions in Autistic Children

By  | 


A small study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that the hormone oxytocin , which plays a role in emotional bonding, trust and many biological processes, is likely to improve social behavior in people with autism.

In this new study, 17 children between the ages 8 to 16 with mild autism received a nasal spray of oxytocin or a placebo. The group of children were shown pictures of people’s faces and asked to match them with an emotion.The children who got a puff of oxytocin responded to pictures of people’s faces with greater activation in their brains.

“These results may imply that oxytocin makes social stimuli more rewarding and  socially salient to children with autism spectrum disorder,” the authors wrote.

This suggests not only that oxytocin can stimulate social brain areas, but also that in children with autism these brain regions are not irrevocably damaged but are young enough to be influenced.