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Insight into the Basis of Insight

A new study  showed that men did a lot better at reading facial expressions after they'd inhaled some oxytocin.

The researchers used a test called "Reading the Mind in the Eyes," developed by Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge. (I hear he's related to Sasha Baron-Cohen, btw.)

Baron-Cohen got actors to portray different emotions, such as jealous and arrogant, and photographed their eyes. The eyes really are windows into the soul, because it's quite possible to understand what someone else is feeling simply by looking at the photos. In fact, we do it every day, some of us better than others.

The researchers didn't say how much better their subjects did. But they suggest that oxytocin improves the ability to infer the emotional state of others from social cues of the eye region.

Thanks to BrainEthics for snagging this off ScienceDirect on the very day it was published.

By the way, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test is interesting and fun, and you can do it online.

Reading the Mind in the Eyes