This release is available in German.
48 healthy males participated in the experiment. Half received an oxytocin nose spray at the start of the experiment, the other half a placebo. The researchers then showed their test subjects photos of emotionally charged situations in the form of a crying child, a girl hugging her cat, and a grieving man. The test subjects were then invited to express the depth of feeling they experienced for the persons shown.
In summary, Dr. Ren Hurlemann of Bonn Universitys Clinic for Psychiatry was able to state that "significantly higher emotional empathy levels were recorded for the oxytocin group than for the placebo group", despite the fact that the participants in the placebo group were perfectly able to provide rational interpretations of the facial expressions displayed. The administration of oxytocin simply had the effect of enhancing the ability to experience fellow-feeling. The males under test achieved levels which would normally only be expected in women. Under normal circumstances, the "weak" sex enjoys a clear advantage when it comes to the subject of "empathy".
Nasal Spray improves Learning
In a second experiment, the participants had to use their computers to complete a simple observation test. Correct answers produced an approving face on the screen, wrong ones a disapproving one. Alternatively, the feedback appeared as green (correct) or red (false) circles. "In general, learning was better when the feedback was shown in the form of faces", states Dr. Keith Kendrick of the Cambridge Babraham Institute in England. "But, once again, the oxytocin group responded clearly better to the feedback in the form of facial expression than did the placebo group".
In this connection, the so-called amygdaloid nucleus appears to play an important role. This cerebral stucture, known genera
|Contact: Dr. Ren Hurlemann|
University of Bonn