Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

The effects of oxytocin on complex social cognition in autism spectrum disorders  

Social impairment is a central, unifying feature of autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and perhaps also the most debilitating, but there has been little headway in the development of pharmacological treatments for the social domain. The purpose of this research is to determine whether oxytocin-a peptide hormone that plays a role in affiliative behavior in animals-facilitates complex social cognition in adults with ASD and to elucidate the neurobiological mechanism involved in this process to clarify the viability of this potentially ground breaking treatment. Specifically, 35 adults with ASD will randomly receive a single dose of synthetic oxytocin, administered via nasal spray, or a matching placebo on two separate occasions. Researchers will then assess performance on a novel, complex social cognition task as well as brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). If positive, this research will point to a novel, potentially groundbreaking therapeutic candidate to target social dysfunction in ASD. Moreover, the focus on adults with ASD will be an important contribution to the field of autism because to date there is a paucity of effective interventions for adults with ASD. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $279,520.00
Project Number 1R21HD065276-01
Principal Investigator Bartz, Jennifer
Received ARRA Funding? Yes
Strategic Plan Question Question 4: Which Treatments And Interventions Will Help? (Interventions)
Strategic Plan Objective Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 4LA. Complete at least three randomized controlled trials on medications targeting core symptoms in people with ASD of all ages by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $22,200,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Mount Sinai School of Medicine
State/Country New York
Web Link 1 The effects of oxytocin on complex social cognition in autism spectrum disorders (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects The effects of oxytocin on complex social cognition in autism spectrum disorders | $285,221.00 | 2010 | 5R21HD065276-02