The acute effects of intranasal oxytocin on automatic and effortful attentional shifting

Centre for Research in Human Development, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Psychophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.18). 09/2011; 49(1):128-37. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01278.x
Source: PubMed


Oxytocin is known to promote social affiliation. The mechanism by which this occurs is unknown, but it may involve changes in social information processing. In a placebo-controlled study, we examined the influence of intranasal oxytocin on effortful and automatic attentional shifting in 57 participants using a spatial cueing task with emotional and neutral faces. For effortful processing, oxytocin decreased the speed of shifting attention to sad faces presented for 750 ms and facilitated disengagement from right hemifield sad and angry faces presented for 200 ms. For automatic processing, symptoms of depression moderated the relationship between drug and disengagement. Oxytocin attenuated an attentional bias to masked angry faces on disengagement trials in persons with high depression scores. Oxytocin's influence on social behavior may occur, in part, by eliciting flexible attentional shifting in the early stages of information processing.

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Available from: Christopher Cardoso, Jan 28, 2014
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    • "Depression is often associated with cognitive processing biases toward negative stimuli (MacLeod et al., 1986), and oxytocin treatment could potentially influence this disorder by affecting sensitivity to social cues (Bartz et al., 2011). Indeed, among individuals with high depression scores, oxytocin attenuated the attentional bias that otherwise existed in relation to masked angry faces (Ellenbogen et al., 2012). It is thought that the inability to inhibit the influence of negative stimuli on cognitive and emotional responses contributes to major depression, which may be modulated by oxytocin . "
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    ABSTRACT: Depression is accompanied by an array of neurobiological variations, including altered HPA axis activity, monoamine, growth factor and inflammatory immune functioning. In addition, a recent perspective has entertained the possible role for oxytocin in depressive disorders. Given the involvement of oxytocin in prosocial behaviors such as attachment, affiliation, trust, and social support seeking, it is not surprising this neuropeptide might be involved in the development or maintenance of depressive disorders. This view is supported by evidence that oxytocin interacts with various neuroendocrine, neurotransmitter, and inflammatory processes that have previously been implicated in depression. Thus, it might be profitable to consider the contribution of oxytocin in the context of several neurobiological changes provoked by stressors. The current review examines the relation between oxytocin and depression with a specific focus on the interactions between the oxytocinergic system and stressor-provoked biological and psychosocial responses. The possibility is also considered that oxytocin might increase the salience of social cues, such that positive or negative experiences result in exaggerated responses that may influence affective states.
    Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 09/2014; 45. DOI:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.07.005 · 8.80 Impact Factor
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    • "Participants viewed the 72 pictures for 6 s each with a fixed intertrial interval of either 12 or 18 s. After viewing all the pictures, the electrodes were removed and participants performed a modified spatial cueing task and a negative priming task, which are presented elsewhere (Ellenbogen et al., 2012, 2013 "
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    ABSTRACT: Oxytocin promotes social affiliation in humans. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon require further elucidation. The present study investigated the influence of intranasal oxytocin on basic emotional processing in men and women, using an emotion-modulated startle response paradigm. Eighty-four participants self-administered 24 IU of intranasal oxytocin or saline and completed an assessment of the acoustic startle reflex, using electromyography (EMG), with varying emotional foregrounds. Oxytocin had no impact on the affective modulation of the startle eyeblink response, but significantly diminished the acoustic startle reflex irrespective of the emotional foreground. The results suggest that oxytocin facilitates pro-social behavior, in part, by attenuating basic physiological arousal. Oxytocin’s dampening effect on EMG startle could possibly be used as an inexpensive marker of oxytocin’s effect on limbic brain circuits.
    Psychophysiology 05/2014; In Press. DOI:10.1111/psyp.12263 · 2.99 Impact Factor
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    • "In the OT condition, we found that the attentional bias was away from negative adult faces in healthy women, which supports our first hypothesis. The result is consistent with another recent study which found that OT decreased the attention toward sad and angry faces.42 We could not find clear evidence in this study that OT influenced the early perception of positive social stimuli of happy faces, contrary to our second hypothesis. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that is involved in social emotional processing. A leading hypothesis is that oxytocin facilitates positive prosocial behaviors; the peptide may also play a more general role in inhibiting withdrawal-related social behaviors. The present study examined these possibilities. Methods A double-blind, placebo controlled crossover design was used with 31 healthy women. Forty-five minutes following the administration of 40 IU of intranasal oxytocin or a placebo, the participants were presented with two dot probe tests with pairs of face stimuli depicting emotional and neutral faces in adults. Results Oxytocin specifically reduced the attention bias toward the location of the faces of adults showing negative emotions, particularly in the case of disgust. Oxytocin did not enhance the attentional bias toward adult happy faces. The effect of oxytocin toward adult negative emotion was correlated with the sensitivity of the drive in the behavioral motivational system. Conclusion Oxytocin reduces attention to negative social emotions in adults, which supports oxytocin serves to inhibit withdrawal-related social behaviour.
    Psychiatry investigation 04/2014; 11(2):160-6. DOI:10.4306/pi.2014.11.2.160 · 1.28 Impact Factor
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