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Oxytocin Improves Empathy in the Less Socially Competent

imageOxytocin may help treat disorders of social impairment, like autism. A recent study reports interesting results.

Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps to reduce stress by counter regulating cortisol. Some studies suggest oxytocin makes people more social, leading to speculation that it could treat autism or social anxiety. However, research on oxytocin is still in the early stages.

In recent study, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Columbia University administered synthetic oxytocin to healthy adults. Adults scoring lower on tests of social competency before the experiment scored higher on an empathetic accuracy task if they were administered oxytocin instead of a placebo. Adults scoring higher on tests of social accuracy showed no significant difference.

Further research is needed to determine why oxytocin improves empathy only in adults with lower social competency. Or whether autistic populations would show similar results. However, these initial findings hold much promise.

Synopsis written by Daina Crafa


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