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February 15, 2010

Nasal spray can help Autistics

A painless technique to lighten the symptoms of autism & make the patients more outgoing, lies in a spray containing ‘oxytocin hormone’, which is known to alter their behavior, finds a new study.

Researchers at National Autistic Society, England found that a spray with oxytocin [hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates contractions of the uterus during labor and release of milk during breastfeeding] , famously known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ tends to ease down the patient, & bring about a temporary change in his behavior, making the patient sociable.

nasal spray can help autisticsElissar Andari, of the Institut des Sciences Cognitives, French government centre for neuroscience research, said, “Under oxytocin, patients with high-functioning autism respond more strongly to others & exhibit more appropriate social behaviour.”

Details of the study

To reach this conclusion, the research team conducted a study on 13 patients with high-functioning autism (HFA) -- deemed to have one or two metrics of higher intelligence than other autistics.

The team conducted two tests to determine behavioral variation in the subjects who inhaled the oxytocin spray.

In the first test, the patients were asked to play a virtual computer ball game with three other imaginary players.It was found that subjects inhaling the spray could differentiate a supportive, & upright player, than those who were given a placebo.

In the second test, the subjects were given pictures of people, & were asked to look into their eyes, to evaluate their ability to look into people’s eyes.This test also led the researchers to conclude that patients inhaling the spray were able to have a direct contact with people.

Therefore, after the inhalation of the spray containing oxytocin hormone, the subjects became more affable, concluded the researchers.

“The results suggest a therapeutic potential of oxytocin through its action on a core dimension of autism,” said Andari.

However, lead researcher Dr. Gina Owens, National Autistic Society, said, “Further rigorous scientific evaluation is necessary before we can fully assess any potential benefits.”

“As autism affects people in very different ways, any intervention that may help one person may not be effective for another,” added Owens.The study was presented at the Mediterranean Conference of Neuroscience, held in Egypt.

About autism

Autism or asperger’s syndrome is a disorder related to neural development; known by impaired social interaction, & communication along with limited & recurrent behavior.Autism
According to researchers, these signs can be seen in a child prior to 3yrs. of age. Nearly, 5,00,000 Britons suffer from autism, leading to elimination from school & long-term redundancy because of the behavioral problems linked with it.

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