Oxytocin And Social Cognition Essay

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Oxytocin and its Effect on Social Cognition Recent research published on March 2nd in PNAS has found that oxytocin may play a key role in promoting neurotypical social behaviors. A hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lack of prolonged and consistent eye gaze behavior. Eye gaze behavior is the act of looking at a person in the eyes, or in surrounding face regions, during a social interaction. Researchers have been trying to find a way to increase the amount of typical eye gaze behavior people with ASD employ. The motive of this research is to promote more typical social behavior and functioning. To do so researchers investigated the effect of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter, on improving eye gaze behavior. People with ASD …show more content…

A sample of 13 adults (ages 17-39), with a confirmed diagnosis of ASD, were randomly separated into either a placebo or treatment group. The study also included a control group of neurotypical subjects. The treatment group received a nasal spray of oxytocin prior to participation. The participants were asked to look at faces on a computer and report the gender or eye gaze of the face. Their eye movements were tracked and the time they spent looking at various face regions was also recorded. The researchers found that the oxytocin group had a much higher rate of consistent eye gaze behavior, focusing on the eye region of the faces, than the placebo group. Additionally, the treatment group had a greater overall total gaze time when looking at the faces compared to the placebo group. They also found that the treatment group had less displacement of their gaze than the placebo group. However, compared to the control group, the oxytocin group spent significantly less time fixating on the eye region and had greater gaze displacement. Overall, however, the oxytocin group spent more time observing faces, specifically in the eye region, than the placebo

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