Inhaled oxytocin increases positive social behaviors in newborn macaques

Simpson, E.A., Sclafani, V., Paukner, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3421-1864, Hamel, A.F., Novak, M.A., Meyer, J.S., Suomi, S.J. and Ferrari, P.F., 2014. Inhaled oxytocin increases positive social behaviors in newborn macaques. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (19), pp. 6922-6927. ISSN 0027-8424

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Abstract

Early caregiver–infant interactions are critical for infants’ socioemotional and cognitive development. Several hormones and neuromodulators, including oxytocin, affect these interactions. Exogenous oxytocin promotes social behaviors in several species, including human and nonhuman primates. Although exogenous oxytocin increases social function in adults—including expression recognition and affiliation—it is unknown whether oxytocin can increase social interactions in infants. We hypothesized that nebulized oxytocin would increase affiliative social behaviors and such effects would be modulated by infants’ social skills, measured earlier in development. We also hypothesized that oxytocin’s effects on social behaviors may be due to its anxiolytic effects. We tested these hypotheses in a blind study by nebulizing 7- to 14-d-old macaques (n = 28) with oxytocin or saline. Following oxytocin administration, infants’ facial gesturing at a human caregiver increased, and infants’ salivary oxytocin was positively correlated with the time spent in close proximity to a caregiver. Infants’ imitative skill (measured earlier in development: 1–7 d of age) predicted oxytocin-associated increases in affiliative behaviors—lip smacking, visual attention to a caregiver, and time in close proximity to a caregiver—suggesting that infants with higher propensities for positive social interactions are more sensitive to exogenous oxytocin. Oxytocin also decreased salivary cortisol, but not stress-related behaviors (e.g., scratching), suggesting the possibility of some anxiolytic effects. To our knowledge, this study provides the first evidence that oxytocin increases positive social behaviors in newborns. This information is of critical importance for potential interventions aimed at ameliorating inadequate social behaviors in infants with higher likelihood of developing neurodevelopmental disorder.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Creators: Simpson, E.A., Sclafani, V., Paukner, A., Hamel, A.F., Novak, M.A., Meyer, J.S., Suomi, S.J. and Ferrari, P.F.
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Date: 28 April 2014
Volume: 111
Number: 19
ISSN: 0027-8424
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1073/pnas.1402471111DOI
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 24 Jan 2019 12:14
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2019 13:53
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/35673

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