Article

Nasal oxytocin for social deficits in childhood autism: A randomized controlled trial.

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 06/2013;

ABSTRACT Background: The last two decades have witnessed a surge in research investigating the application of oxytocin as a method of enhancing social behaviour in humans. Preliminary evidence suggests oxytocin may have potential as an intervention for autism.
Methods: We evaluated a 5-day ‘live-in’ intervention using a double-blind randomized control trial. 38 male youths (7–16 years old) with autism spectrum disorders were administered 24IU or 12IU (depending on weight) intranasal placebo or oxytocin once daily over four consecutive days. The oxytocin or placebo was administered during parent-child interaction training sessions. Parent and child behaviours were assessed using parent reports, clinician ratings, and independent observations, at multiple time points to measure side-effects; social interaction skills; repetitive behaviours; emotion recognition and diagnostic status.
Results: Compared to placebo, intranasal oxytocin did not significantly improve emotion recognition, social interaction skills, or general behavioral adjustment in male youths with autism spectrum disorders.
Conclusions: The results show that the benefits of nasal oxytocin for young individuals with autism spectrum disorders may be more circumscribed than suggested by previous studies, and suggest caution in recommending it as an intervention that is broadly effective.

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    ABSTRACT: Following intranasal administration of oxytocin (OT), we measured, via functional MRI, changes in brain activity during judgments of socially (Eyes) and nonsocially (Vehicles) meaningful pictures in 17 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). OT increased activity in the striatum, the middle frontal gyrus, the medial prefrontal cortex, the right orbitofrontal cortex, and the left superior temporal sulcus. In the striatum, nucleus accumbens, left posterior superior temporal sulcus, and left premotor cortex, OT increased activity during social judgments and decreased activity during nonsocial judgments. Changes in salivary OT concentrations from baseline to 30 min postadministration were positively associated with increased activity in the right amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex during social vs. nonsocial judgments. OT may thus selectively have an impact on salience and hedonic evaluations of socially meaningful stimuli in children with ASD, and thereby facilitate social attunement. These findings further the development of a neurophysiological systems-level understanding of mechanisms by which OT may enhance social functioning in children with ASD.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor

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