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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"Furthermore, infants express more social behavior(s) in face-to-face interactions when their father receives intranasal OXT than when their father receives placebo, and experience a post-interaction increase in salivary OXT (Weisman et al., 2012). Moreover, intranasal OXT appears to influence several features of social cognition (e.g., face/emotion recognition, judgments of trustworthiness and attractiveness; Graustella and MacLeod, 2012; van IJzendoorn and Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2012). However, these studies on adults examined whether OXT influenced perceptions of other individuals' attractiveness. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult male-female bonds are partly characterized by initiating and maintaining close proximity with a social partner, as well as engaging in high levels of affiliative and sociosexual behavior. Oxytocin (OXT), a neuromodulatory nonapeptide, plays a critical role in the facilitation of social bonding and prosocial behavior toward a social partner (Feldman, 2012). However, less attention has been given to whether augmentation of OXT levels in an individual alters others' perceptions and behavior toward an OXT-treated social partner. We examined social dynamics in well-established male-female pairs of marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) in which one member of the pair was administered an intranasal OXT agonist, an OXT antagonist (OXTA), or saline. OXT treatment did not alter the expression of affiliative toward an untreated partner. However, OXT did significantly influence the expression of proximity and grooming behavior with a treated partner, as a function of OXT treatment and sex. Female interest in initiating and maintaining proximity with a pair-mate was altered by OXT treatment. Untreated female marmosets departed from their saline-treated partner more frequently than they approached them, as indicated by a low proximity index score. However, when males received an intranasal OXT agonist they had a significantly increased proximity index score relative to saline, indicating that their untreated partner approached them more often than they departed from them). Saline-treated females initiated and received equivalent levels of grooming behavior. However, when female marmosets were treated with an OXT agonist their untreated partner groomed them proportionately more often, for a greater total duration, and for more time per bout, than they initiated grooming behavior. These results suggest that intranasal OXT altered male and female marmosets' stimulus properties in such a way as to increase the amount of grooming behavior that females received from their long-term mate, as well as increase female interest in initiating and maintaining proximity with their long-term mate. Furthermore, these results support the notion that central OXT activity plays an important neuromodulatory role in the maintenance of long-lasting male-female relationships.
"The oxytocin network has been widely studied for its role in prosocial behaviors in animals (Lim and Young, 2006) and humans (for reviews: Bartz et al., 2011; Guastella and MacLeod, 2012). More precisely, experiments in humans have shown using intranasal oxytocin administration, that this neuropeptide is associated with social cognitive processes such as mental-state attribution (i.e. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emotion perception has been extensively studied in cognitive neurosciences and stands as a promising intermediate phenotype of social cognitive processes and psychopathologies. Exciting imaging genetic studies have recently identified genetic and epigenetic variants affecting brain responses during emotion perception tasks, but characterizing how these variants interact and relate to higher-order cognitive processes remains a challenge. Here, we integrate works in parallel fields and propose a new psychophysical conceptualization to address this issue. This approach proposes to consider genetic variants as 'filters' of perceptual information that can interact to shape different perceptual profiles. Importantly, these perceptual profiles can be precisely described and compared between multivariate genetic groups using a new psychophysical method. Crucially, this approach represents a potentially powerful novel tool to address gene-by-gene and gene-by-environment interactions, and provides a new cognitive perspective to link social perceptive and social cognitive processes in the context of psychiatric disorders.
"Finally, it would be useful to identify reliable markers of response to oxytocin in different clinical populations, to be able to predict who is receiving adequate dosing and likely to respond to treatment (Guastella and MacLeod, 2012). Currently, there is little understanding as to what constitutes a reliable response to oxytocin, although some social cognitive tests, such as emotion recognition, have shown promise as potential markers in healthy populations (Guastella and MacLeod, 2012; Shahrestani et al., 2013). Thus, the aim of this study was to further explore the different domains of social cognition in patients with schizophrenia following intranasal administration of oxytocin. "