Autism is a deleterious yet mysterious medical condition. Over the past several decades, diagnoses rates surrounding autism spectrum disorders appear to have soared. The causes and circumstances surrounding these diagnostic rates are poorly understood. It would appear that anyone, anywhere could potentially have an autistic child. Thankfully, there are treatment options for parents and children.
One of these treatment options is oxytocin. Oxytocin is a complex hormone that facilitates many emotional and hormonal responses throughout the body. Released during times of emotional intimacy, it is believed that oxytocin causes individuals to form strong relationships and emotional bonds. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders may benefit from the interpersonal bond-building effects.
Oxytocin works by increasing trust within individuals. In 2017, a team of researchers explored and determined these trust building effects within adolescent test subjects. The researchers analysed over 100 individuals from all races. They set up a trust-monitoring simulation, engaging the subjects in a game with family members and with strangers.
Naturally, the simulation results showed higher rates of trust between family members than with strangers. They showed apprehension towards people they didn’t know. However, after being given oxytocin intranasally, the results differed. After being given oxytocin, trust levels between family members and strangers became more similar.
In another study in 2005, scientists analysed the brain activity and chemistry within individuals with autism. To monitor the test subjects, scientists devised an experiment that would focus on gaze fixation. Many individuals with autism display a symptom known as gaze fixation, a seemingly vacant stare that they go into at times.
As scientists recorded brain activity during the experiment, they noticed that oxytocin pathways played a role. As individuals displayed gaze fixation, there was increased activity in their amygdalas. The amygdala is a region of the brain where oxytocin is active, controlling emotional responses and the peripheral nervous system.
These findings suggest that oxytocin may play a role in autism, and supplementing it may reduce or eliminate symptoms of autism. The brain analysis on individuals with autism is one factor. The researchers demonstrated that oxytocin plays a role in autism, and with associated introverted symptoms.
Furthermore, the trust building simulation demonstrates that oxytocin supplementation can have profound effects, quickly and readily. Within a short period of time after administration, test subjects in the trust simulation demonstrated higher rates of trust, likely through stimulation of the amygdala.