Article

Oxytocin attenuates feelings of hostility depending on emotional context and individuals' characteristics

Scientific Reports (Impact Factor: 5.58). 04/2012; 2:384. DOI: 10.1038/srep00384
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In humans, oxytocin (OT) enhances prosocial behaviour. However, it is still unclear how the prosocial effects of OT are modulated by emotional features and/or individuals' characteristics. In a placebo-controlled design, we tested 20 healthy male volunteers to investigate these behavioural and neurophysiological modulations using magnetoencephalography. As an index of the individuals' characteristics, we used the empathy quotient (EQ), the autism spectrum quotient (AQ), and the systemising quotient (SQ). Only during the perception of another person's angry face was a higher SQ a significant predictor of OT-induced prosocial change, both in the behavioural and neurophysiological indicators. In addition, a lower EQ was only a significant predictor of OT-induced prosocial changes in the neurophysiological indicators during the perception of angry faces. Both on the behavioural and the neurophysiological level, the effects of OT were specific for anger and correlated with a higher SQ.

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Available from: Tsunehisa Tsubokawa, Dec 25, 2013
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    • "By increasing the cognitive availability of such information , OT can increase the empathic response to the distress of others. This hypothesis is in accord with evidence showing that OT enhances mentalizing and recognition of emotions in others (Domes et al., 2007; Guastella et al., 2010), increases trust toward unrelated others (Kosfeld et al., 2005) and negative emotions such as envy in competitive situations (Shamay-Tsoory et al., 2009; Hirosawa et al., 2012), modulates the social relevance of emotional stimuli (Kirsch et al., 2005), interacts with dopamine to regulate socio-affiliative behaviors (Liu and Wang, 2003; Zeki, 2007) and the appropriate assignment of salience to social stimuli (Skuse and Gallagher, 2009). One of the most rudimentary empathy mechanisms is that of empathy to pain, a concept that describes our tendency to automatically experience distress when facing someone else's pain. "
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