In a preliminary presentation of new research, doctors said a nasal spray containing the hormone helped activate "social" regions of the brain.
Oxytocin, the "mother-infant bonding hormone," holds even more promise for helping treat the social deficits that are often part of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Where earlier work piqued interest in oxytocin as a possible treatment, a new study goes further to support its role in treating the disorder, which now affects one in 88 children born today, according to the CDC.
The brains of the children who had received the oxytocin showed that areas of the "social brain," were activated.
In the new study, the authors conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, the gold standard of scientific research. The team gave half of a group of children aged 7-18 a single dose of a nasal spray containing oxytocin. The other half of the group received a placebo - a nasal spray with no active ingredient in it.
The brains of the children who had received the oxytocin showed that areas of the "social brain," were activated. These included the medial prefrontal cortex, the temporal parietal junction, the fusiform gyrus and the superior temporal sulcus, all areas involved in processing social information coming from sight, sounds, and cues from other people.