Just when I thought I'd finished talking about oxytocin and it’s benefits to human connection, I found an article on Reuters, a health new engine, about a potential treatment option using oxytocin. In a study conducted at the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience in Lyon, France, the research noted that when adult autistic patients inhaled oxytocin they were able to focus more on facial expressions and social cues in a game simulation.
The reason why the researchers choose oxytocin is because it has been shown to help create the social bonding between mother's and their children; and some autistic patients have been shown to have lower levels of oxytocin circulating in their systems. In the study they had the participants inhale the hormone, oxytocin, then participate in a game simulation.
The study showed enhanced eye contact in participants. One of the more common traits with autism is avoidance of eye contact. One of the assumptions of the study was that eye contact is one of the first steps to social contact. Angela Sirigu, the lead researcher for the study said, “hormones also improve the ability of people with autism to understand how other people respond to them, and they can learn the appropriate response to others' behavior.”
The study was conducted with 13 participants that were highly functioning on the autistic spectrum disorder scale. Their response to two separate experiments is encouraging more research into this area.
The researchers believe that oxytocin could help autistic patients who have normal intellectual functions and good language ability to have better social interaction and eye contact.
It is amazing to see how oxytocin has been proven to support social bonding in mother's and their children, as well as social bonding in men and women. Now science is finding a way to use oxytocin to support the social bonding in those whose brains are having difficulty connecting to others. What a blessing!
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