Oxytocin is a hormone that we naturally produce. Many people are familiar with its role in child birth, but few people know that it also seems to help us with social cognition skills like reading other people’s facial expressions.

An example of our oxytocin research is “A neurobiological comparison of social cognitive deficits in young adults with neurodevelopmental and anxiety disorders.”
Given oxytocin’s crucial role in social functioning, research on the effects of oxytocin is now beginning to emerge across a wide range of disorders associated with social dysfunction and psychopathology, including not only Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but also Williams Syndrome (WS) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

This current research aims to further understand the underlying mechanisms implicated in people with ASD, WS and SAD. Specifically, we will use MRI to carefully examine the structural and functional abnormalities in key brain regions associated with emotion and fear related behaviours. In addition, peripheral levels of key neuroendocrine hormones that are implicated to social and emotional behaviours will also be examined.


Investigators

  • Dr Izelle Labuschagne
  • Professor Peter Rendell
  • Dr Darren Hocking (La Trobe)

Duration

2015-2016

Funding

Australian Catholic University Research Funding – A$50,000

 

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