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February 17, 2010

Bonding hormone may help autism

According to a french study, nasal inhalation of oxytocin, a hormone linked with romantic love & mother-to-baby bonding, may help people with autism become more sociable.Bonding hormone may help autism

A team led by Angela Sirigu of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience in Lyon, France, tried the experiment after previous research found that blood levels of oxytocin 're low among individuals with autism, a condition that afflicts social behaviour.

  • Oxytocin was tested among 13 patients suffering on high-functioning autism patients or with Asperger's syndrome.
  • The individuals had normal intellectual capacities but had problems in making contact in social situations.
  • The researchers observed the patients & controls, who were not given oxytocin, in a virtual game of passing a ball, this was to measure behavioural changes.
  • They then measured attentiveness to socially important cues when the patients viewed pictures of human faces.
  • Patients who had inhaled oxytocin showed more attentiveness to visual cues when viewing human faces and were more likely to process social cues during the virtual ball passing game than controls in both experiments.
The study, published on Monday in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is cautious, saying there is wide individual variation in social responses.Even the outcome should unlock future studies on whether long-term use of oxytocin could bolster confidence & help social behaviour amongst people afflicted by autism, say the authors.

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