What is the role of intranasal oxytocin in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Research suggests that administration of a single intranasal dose of the hormone oxytocin increases activity in brain regions associated with reward, social perception, and emotional awareness and temporarily improves social information processing in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). [178, 179]

In the study of 17 high-functioning children and adolescents with ASD, brain centers associated with reward and emotion recognition responded more during social tasks when children received oxytocin instead of a placebo.

Although behavioral studies in children and adults suggest that a single dose of intranasal oxytocin improves social interaction and comprehension of affective speech, results from clinical trials examining the effect of daily administration of the drug have been mixed.

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