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Oxytocin Spray Helps Adolescents with ASD

A new study found that inhaling oxytocin once a week for two weeks helped adolescents understand facial expressions.  Adam Guastella, of the Brain & Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney, led the experiment.

Eric Hollander and Jennifer Bartz did the first studies of oxytocin as a treatment for symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. They gave it intravenously to adults, and found improvements in the ability to recognize the emotional content of speech improved for up to two weeks after treatment.

A French study of adults found the same improvement when adults with autism inhaled oxytocin. This is the first study of adolescents. It's possible that oxytocin could help them improve their ability to read social cues, and that the effect could last their lifetimes.

Guastella has been studying the effects of oxytocin on humans without diagnosed disorders. He's found that men who inhale oxytocin tend to remember photos of smiling faces more than those who haven't had a dose. He's also tested whether oxytocin could make couples more open during psychotherapy.
He has grants to test oxytocin as a therapy for schizophrenia and Prader-Willi Syndrome, as well.