Article

A critical review of the influence of oxytocin nasal spray on social cognition in humans: Evidence and future directions

Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, 2050, Australia.
Hormones and Behavior (Impact Factor: 4.51). 01/2012; 61(3):410-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.01.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The past eight years of research has demonstrated that oxytocin nasal spray has a significant impact on human social cognition. The aim of this review is to provide critical comment on the literature using an information-processing framework. We provide a summary of fundamental assumptions of information-processing models and highlight an impressive range of consistent findings that demonstrate the impact of oxytocin nasal spray on social information processing. These findings include that oxytocin nasal spray improves the early conceptual detection of affect from social cues and improves the accurate appraisal of affect from social cues at elaborate and strategic levels of processing. There is some evidence that these effects may be particularly powerful for positive social cues. This review comments on inconsistent results that have been reported. We argue that such inconsistencies can, in part, be explained by variability across experiments in the degree to which potential extraneous confounds have been controlled, the different methods upon which studies assessed cognition, and the extent to which the focus of investigation has been on group-based outcomes. Finally, we argue that sound cognitive experimental methods can provide powerful tools to identify markers of response to oxytocin nasal spray that can be integrated into more complex circuitry models. The identification of robust markers has particular value in predicting behavioral and therapeutic response to intervention. This should now be a major focus for future research. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior.

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