This study was financially supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG Do1312/1-1). We thank Friederike Pockrandt and Marlies Bebersdorf for assistance during data acquisition, Christoph Berger for technical support, and Gisela Irmisch for help with regard to analysis of the endocrine data.
Effects of intranasal oxytocin on pupil dilation indicate increased salience of socioaffective stimuli
Article first published online: 2 APR 2013
Copyright © 2013 Society for Psychophysiological Research
Volume 50, Issue 6, pages 528–537, June 2013
How to Cite
Prehn, K., Kazzer, P., Lischke, A., Heinrichs, M., Herpertz, S. C. and Domes, G. (2013), Effects of intranasal oxytocin on pupil dilation indicate increased salience of socioaffective stimuli. Psychophysiology, 50: 528–537. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12042
- Issue published online: 10 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 2 APR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Received: 11 JUL 2012
- German Research Foundation. Grant Number: DFG Do1312/1-1
- Pupillary responses;
- Facial emotion recognition;
- Social cognition
To investigate the mechanisms by which oxytocin improves socioaffective processing, we measured behavioral and pupillometric data during a dynamic facial emotion recognition task. In a double-blind between-subjects design, 47 men received either 24 IU intranasal oxytocin (OXT) or a placebo (PLC). Participants in the OXT group recognized all facial expressions at lower intensity levels than did participants in the PLC group. Improved performance was accompanied by increased task-related pupil dilation, indicating an increased recruitment of attentional resources. We also found increased pupil dilation during the processing of female compared with male faces. This gender-specific stimulus effect diminished in the OXT group, in which pupil size specifically increased for male faces. Results suggest that improved emotion recognition after OXT treatment might be due to an intensified processing of stimuli that usually do not recruit much attention.