A day in the life of a single mom raising a teenager and a child with autism. I believe that it's not what we receive, but what we give away that defines us. I want to give away all that I have learned and experienced in hopes that it will help families raising a child with autism or any disability. This is my candid journal where I open up my world and share my joys, knowledge, lessons, disappointments, challenges, frustrations, fears and successes - one day at a time.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
News Alert, Part 1 – Hormone Oxytocin as a Treatment for Autism, The Pro’s
Making the Brain Take Notice of
Faces in Autism (Science News)
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in registering and responding to the facial expressions of other people is a
hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Relatedly, functional imaging
studies have shown that individuals with ASD display altered brain activations
when processing facial images.
The hormone oxytocin plays a vital role in the social interactions
of both animals and humans. In fact, multiple studies conducted with healthy
volunteers have provided evidence for beneficial effects of oxytocin in terms
of increased trust, improved emotion recognition, and preference for social
This combination of scientific work led German researchers to
hypothesize about the influence of oxytocin in ASD. Dr. Gregor Domes, from the
University of Freiburg and first author of the new study, explained: "In
the present study, we were interested in the question of whether a single dose
of oxytocin would change brain responses to social compared to non-social
stimuli in individuals with autism spectrum disorder." They found that
oxytocin did show an effect on social processing in the individuals with ASD,
"suggesting that oxytocin may help to treat a basic brain function that
goes awry in autism spectrum disorders," commented Dr. John Krystal,
Editor ofBiological Psychiatry.
To conduct this study, they recruited fourteen individuals with
ASD and fourteen control volunteers, all of whom completed a face- and
house-matching task while undergoing imaging scans. Each participant completed
this task and scanning procedure twice, once after receiving a nasal spray
containing oxytocin and once after receiving a nasal spray containing placebo.
The order of the sprays was randomized, and the tests were administered one
Using two sets of stimuli in the matching task, one of faces and
one of houses, allowed the researchers to not only compare the effects of the
oxytocin and placebo administrations, but also allowed them to discriminate
findings between specific effects to only social stimuli and non-specific
effects to more general brain processing. What they found was intriguing. The
data indicate that oxytocin specifically increases responses of the amygdala to
social stimuli in individuals with ASD. The amygdala, the authors explain,
"has been associated with processing of emotional stimuli, threat-related
stimuli, face processing, and vigilance for salient stimuli."
This finding suggests oxytocin might promote the salience of
social stimuli in ASD. Increased salience of social stimuli might support
behavioral training of social skills in ASD.
These data support the idea that oxytocin may be a promising
approach in the treatment of ASD and could stimulate further research, even
clinical trials, on the exploration of oxytocin as an add-on treatment for
individuals with autism spectrum disorder.