Friday, May 25, 2018
Health

Oxytocin boosts social acuity in children with autism, study indicates

LOS ANGELES — Oxytocin, the "cuddle" hormone that makes mothers' milk flow, men faithful to their mates and even tough negotiators more trusting, also makes children with autism more attuned to social cues in others, a new study says.

The study found that compared with autistic children who got a placebo nasal spray, autistic children who got a puff of oxytocin up the nose responded to pictures of people's faces with greater activation in their brains' "social circuits" and in the regions key to reward and motivation. When an autistic child got oxytocin and was asked to identify images of socially neutral things such as cars and trucks, activity in these social and motivation brain regions were notably less active than they were in those on the placebo.

The study, conducted by researchers at Yale University, was published this week in the journal PNAS.

"These results may imply that oxytocin makes social stimuli more rewarding and socially salient to children with autism spectrum disorder," the authors wrote. Citing oxytocin research on animals, the authors speculated that when a shot of oxytocin hits the autistic brain, it boosts the "signal-to-noise" ratio in regions that make sense of our social world, and makes positive social interaction easier and more pleasant.

When the study's 17 participants were asked to identify the emotion that a pictured face was expressing, oxytocin did not improve their speed or accuracy in answering. But that might change with more practice under oxytocin's influence, the researchers suggested.

With the regions of the brain that are suited to the task of reading social cues working more normally, kids with autism might be able to reverse the cascade of effects that may characterize autism: Those may start as a subtle deficit in social drive and motivation during infancy, prompting these children to interact less, resulting in poorer social skills and brains that develop more and more differently than those of typically developing children.

With oxytocin-aided social skills training, that cascade of developmental differences might be interrupted, or at least blunted, many researchers believe.

Comments
Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Some of the boxes stacked inside anthropologist Molly Zuckerman’s laboratory contain full bones — a skull, a jaw, or a leg. Others contain only plastic bags of bone fragments that Zuckerman describes as "grit." These humble remain...
Published: 05/23/18
FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned parents Wednesday about the dangers of teething remedies that contain a popular numbing ingredient and asked manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers. The Food and Drug...
Published: 05/23/18
A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A sleep study revealed that less than six hours of sleep a day can limit the brain’s ability to function properly.The study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people experiencing less than...
Published: 05/23/18
Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances.Money was already tight when doctors told the Phoenix resident she had an aggressive form of the disease. Then she took a pay cut after goin...
Published: 05/22/18

Hernando County officials gather to remedy ‘dearth of services’ for youth with mental illness

BROOKSVILLE — Educators, court officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals met Friday to identify the best ways to keep local youth with mental illnesses out of the court system and provide treatment for those already in the sys...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18
TGH helps nurses focus on new human trafficking requirements

TGH helps nurses focus on new human trafficking requirements

TAMPA — She was molested beginning at the age of 9 and ran away from home at age 15 only to be abducted, chained in an attic, and forced into the sex trade for more than a year.Now more than 40 years later, Niki Rowe Cross is an award-winning public ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

U.S. approves first drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. regulators Thursday approved the first drug designed to prevent chronic migraines. The Food and Drug Administration’s action clears the monthly shot Aimovig (AIM’-oh-vig) for sale. It’s the first in a new class of long-acting dru...
Published: 05/18/18
Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Know your blood pressure numbers? Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day

Today (May 17) is World Hypertension Day, and the American Medical Association is encouraging people to monitor their blood pressure levels and get high blood pressure, or hypertension, under control. High blood pressure, sometimes referred to as the...
Published: 05/17/18