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Emotions and Autism: New Research

Emotional Perception in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Understanding emotions in one’s self and in others is one of the hallmark difficulties of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  New research has found a potential way to unlock these challenges for those with ASD. 

Initial findings have shown that oxytocin spray may aid emotion perception in people with ASD.  This finding may lead to possible pharmacological interventions that directly treat the symptoms of autism.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus.  It is known to be part of the childbirth process and aids in mother and child bonding.  Oxytocin has been shown to improve social information processing in children with ASD.  Researchers have studied the effects of oxytocin administered as a nasal spray. 

Participants in this study who were given the nasal spray showed better understanding of facial expressions when compared with those who did not receive the spray. 

Although this is something that is being researched now, it gives hope to those in the future that may benefit from drug based interventions. 

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