4 years ago

Oxytocin improves facial emotion recognition in young adults with antisocial personality disorder

Deficient facial emotion recognition has been suggested to underlie aggression in individuals with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). As the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has been shown to improve facial emotion recognition, it might also exert beneficial effects in individuals providing so much harm to the society. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial, 22 individuals with ASPD and 29 healthy control (HC) subjects (matched for age, sex, intelligence, and education) were intranasally administered either OT (24 IU) or a placebo 45min before participating in an emotion classification paradigm with fearful, angry, and happy faces. We assessed the number of correct classifications and reaction times as indicators of emotion recognition ability. Significant group×substance×emotion interactions were found in correct classifications and reaction times. Compared to HC, individuals with ASPD showed deficits in recognizing fearful and happy faces; these group differences were no longer observable under OT. Additionally, reaction times for angry faces differed significantly between the ASPD and HC group in the placebo condition. This effect was mainly driven by longer reaction times in HC subjects after placebo administration compared to OT administration while individuals with ASPD revealed descriptively the contrary response pattern. Our data indicate an improvement of the recognition of fearful and happy facial expressions by OT in young adults with ASPD. Particularly the increased recognition of facial fear is of high importance since the correct perception of distress signals in others is thought to inhibit aggression. Beneficial effects of OT might be further mediated by improved recognition of facial happiness probably reflecting increased social reward responsiveness.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0306453017303955

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