Social recognition is the basis of all social interactions. Here, we show that, in humans, the evolutionarily highly conserved neuropeptide oxytocin, after intranasal administration, specifically improves recognition memory for faces, but not for nonsocial stimuli. With increased oxytocin levels, previously presented faces were more correctly assessed as "known," whereas the ability of recollecting faces was unchanged. This pattern speaks for an immediate and selective effect of the peptide strengthening neuronal systems of social memory.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Oxytocin makes a face in memory familiar
It is known that men treated with oxytocin perform better in inferring affective state from the eye region of human faces. Oxytocin also increases social behaviors like trust. Rimmele at al. show now that oxytocin delivered by a commercially available nasal spray (Syntocinon Spray from Novartis) selectively enhances memory encoding of faces in humans, but not of nonsocial stimuli. Here is their abstract: