Navigation Links
Making the brain take notice of faces in autism
Date:8/15/2013

Philadelphia, PA, August 15, 2013 Difficulty in registering and responding to the facial expressions of other people is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Relatedly, functional imaging studies have shown that individuals with ASD display altered brain activations when processing facial images.

The hormone oxytocin plays a vital role in the social interactions of both animals and humans. In fact, multiple studies conducted with healthy volunteers have provided evidence for beneficial effects of oxytocin in terms of increased trust, improved emotion recognition, and preference for social stimuli.

This combination of scientific work led German researchers to hypothesize about the influence of oxytocin in ASD. Dr. Gregor Domes, from the University of Freiburg and first author of the new study, explained: "In the present study, we were interested in the question of whether a single dose of oxytocin would change brain responses to social compared to non-social stimuli in individuals with autism spectrum disorder."

They found that oxytocin did show an effect on social processing in the individuals with ASD, "suggesting that oxytocin may help to treat a basic brain function that goes awry in autism spectrum disorders," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

To conduct this study, they recruited fourteen individuals with ASD and fourteen control volunteers, all of whom completed a face- and house-matching task while undergoing imaging scans. Each participant completed this task and scanning procedure twice, once after receiving a nasal spray containing oxytocin and once after receiving a nasal spray containing placebo. The order of the sprays was randomized, and the tests were administered one week apart.

Using two sets of stimuli in the matching task, one of faces and one of houses, allowed the researchers to not only compare the effects of the oxytocin and placebo administrations, but also allowed them to discriminate findings between specific effects to only social stimuli and non-specific effects to more general brain processing.

What they found was intriguing. The data indicate that oxytocin specifically increases responses of the amygdala to social stimuli in individuals with ASD. The amygdala, the authors explain, "has been associated with processing of emotional stimuli, threat-related stimuli, face processing, and vigilance for salient stimuli".

This finding suggests oxytocin might promote the salience of social stimuli in ASD. Increased salience of social stimuli might support behavioral training of social skills in ASD.

These data support the idea that oxytocin may be a promising approach in the treatment of ASD and could stimulate further research, even clinical trials, on the exploration of oxytocin as an add-on treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.


'/>"/>

Contact: Rhiannon Bugno
Biol.Psych@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-0880
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Making memories: How 1 protein does it
2. Killer silk: Making silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutes
3. Chemical engineers at UMass Amherst find high-yield method of making xylene from biomass
4. Copper making salmon prone to predators
5. Making healthy food affordable and appealing for low-income populations
6. Winemaking goes high-tech at the University of British Columbia
7. For gay couples, condom decision-making and condom use varies by race
8. Making sense out of the biological matrix of bipolar disorder
9. Making memories: Drexel researchers explore the anatomy of recollection
10. Making chocolate an affordable luxury
11. Are bacteria making you hungry?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/22/2017)... Feb. 22, 2017 With the biometrics ... Research identifies four technologies that innovative and agile ... significant share in the changing competitive landscape: multifactor ... authentication.   "Companies can no longer ... security," says Dimitrios Pavlakis , Industry Analyst ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... -- Der weltweite Biobanking-Sektor wird bis zum ... mit mehr als 50 Vertretern aus verschiedenen Branchen wurde aber ... diese Prognose zu realisieren. ... Zu den Schwierigkeiten für ... für die Biobank, die Implementierung Zeit sparender Technologien, ein ...
(Date:2/14/2017)... , Feb. 14, 2017  Wake Forest Baptist Medical ... its new chief executive officer (CEO). Freischlag joins the ... John D. McConnell , M.D., who last year announced ... the Medical Center, after leading it since 2008.   ... scope of Wake Forest Baptist,s academic health system, which ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/28/2017)... NC (PRWEB) , ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... side effects and diminished effectiveness over time. A recent study published in STEM ... PD by stimulating subventricular zone (SVZ) stem cells to produce more neural cells. ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... Executive search firm, Slone ... Analytical Services. Harvill is a distinguished life sciences expert with a proven track ... leader in a wide range of services related to laboratory testing and analysis ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... Infectex Ltd., a Russian portfolio company of Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund (MBVF), ... the standard drug therapy regimen in patients with multidrug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis (MDR-TB). SQ109 is ... ) and the US National Institutes of Health. ... ... ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... , ... March 27, 2017 , ... ... to engineer scalable and customizable vascular grafts in JoVE’s Video Journal, the world’s ... to new and improved ways of treating coronary artery disease (CAD). Lam is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: