Washington: Oxytocin, often referred to as a love hormone, boosts activity in brain areas of autistic children involving sight, hearing and understanding other people.
These are the preliminary results from an ongoing, large-scale study led by postoctoral fellow IIanit Gordon and Kevin Pelphrey, associate professor of child psychiatry and psychology at the Yale School of Medicine.
Gordon and her team conducted a first-of-its-kind, rigorous study on kids aged between seven and 18 years with autism. They gave them a single dose of oxytocin in a nasal spray and used functional magnetic resonance brain imaging to observe its effect.
Previous studies have shown that the inability to secrete oxytocin and feel empathy is linked to sociopathy, psychopathy, narcissism and general manipulativenes, according to an Yale statement.
"Our findings provide the first, critical steps toward devising more effective treatments for the core social deficits in autism, which may involve a combination of clinical interventions with an administration of oxytocin," said Gordon.
Autism, a neuro-developmental disorder, can have enormous emotional and financial burden on the affected individual, their families, and society. It is characterised by a stunted ability to communicate verbally and non-verbally or interact socially.
These findings were presented on Saturday at the International Meeting for Autism Research.