Oxytocin and autism?

Anyone catch the oxytocin “news” item on NPR on Monday? If not, read/listen here.

The short of it is this: certain kinds of hormones are released during certain bodily functions: giving birth, breastfeeding, and orgasm. It seems that the hormone is involved in feelings of trust, connection, intimacy. Now comes a couple of small studies that indicate these feelings are increased when given a nasal spray version of the hormone. And the study talked about in the NPR story suggests that autistic individuals given the spray preformed as well as non-autistic individuals at recognizing (understanding?) emotional expressions on the faces of individuals in pictures.

Maybe autistic individuals have a deficit of oxytocin. Let’s hope this research helps discover how to raise the level of the hormone by natural means. However, do a Google search on the term and you will see a host of websites promoting the value of the hormone as if it is already well understood. Others seem to be selling a product. One in particular is trying to suggest that someone might use it to get the girl or close a sales deal (by increasing their trust). How? “Here, could I squirt this substance of your nose?”

Better to take a wait and see effort for now rather than get everyone’s hopes up just yet. Let the researchers do their work to find out just how this hormone works before hyping it yet.



Filed under Psychiatric Medications

4 responses to “Oxytocin and autism?

  1. D. Stevenson

    Ha! That ploy might backfire on the would-be suitor or sale. If oxytocin increases ability to read emotional expressions (body language) then the person may instead be more aware of a need to distrust.

  2. Maybe if it becomes available by prescription I can give some to my Husband hes really been a jerk lately…:)

  3. Scott Knapp

    I wonder whether there is a “tipping point,” up to which the drug compensates for a deficit and raises awareness to the point of the user being able to make a warranted decision to “trust,” but after which decreases healthy inhibitions and “trust” is granted without reasonable warrant. Interesting topic.

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