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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Available from: Adam J Guastella, Mar 21, 2014
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    • "Several studies have suggested that oxytocin has therapeutic effects on autistic deficits in social responses and the understanding of emotion in others (Andari et al., 2010; Striepens et al., 2012). More generally, literature on human and non-human primates presents converging evidence of oxytocin's positive effects on prosocial behaviour (Guastela and MacLeod, 2012; Chang and Platt, 2014). Recently, 7-to 14-day-old macaques where found to increase their facial gesturing at a human caregiver after oxytocin nebulization (Simpson et al., 2014). "
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    • "Recently, several critical reviews have been published. The authors of these papers emphasized the limited understating of mechanism of action, lack of information on dose-response relationship, long-term safety, social contextual effects, ethical issues regarding behavioral modulation, and the controversial impact of oxytocin in real-life circumstances [2] [5] [13] [20] [29] [52] [54]. MacDonald et al. [39] provided a comprehensive review of safety, side effects, and subjective reactions to intranasal oxytocin in controlled human studies, including more than 1500 participants. "
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    • "In addition, consistent with our first hypothesis, a treatment effect was observed in that dogs performed significantly better after oxytocin than saline administration in session 1. This is consistent with findings for humans, demonstrating that oxytocin increases perception of biologically relevant human motion (Kéri and Benedek 2009), which is imperative for social cognitive processing and communication, and supports the notion that oxytocin increases social cognition (see reviews by Bartz et al. 2011; Guastella and MacLeod 2012). In addition, when examining difference scores between testing sessions, we observed performance improvements from session 1 to session 2 for point B3 scores in sal-oxy group dogs. "
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