The effects of intranasal oxytocin on mentalization in individuals with and without schizophrenia
Presenter: Joshua Woolley, Assistant Professor, UC San Francisco
5101 Tolman Hall
There is growing interest in the use of intranasal oxytocin administration to alter social behavior and functioning in healthy and patient populations. In particular, there is growing excitement that oxytocin may be a novel approach for treatment of social cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, which are important causes of worse clinical, functional, and occupational outcomes. However, there is also concern about lack of reproducibility and excessive exuberance in the oxytocin literature. In this talk, I will present data from a series of studies suggesting that intranasal oxytocin administration selectively improves patients’ ability to make high-level inferences about one’s own and other people’s mental states (mentalizing/Theory of Mind, ToM). Furthermore, functional MRI data will be presented suggesting a potential neural mechanism and measure of target engagement for these oxytocin-induced improvements. Data suggesting that oxytocin administration can have similar mentalization-enhancing effects in healthy individuals will also be presented. Finally, preliminary data from an ongoing study investigating the psychobiological predictors and mechanisms of team cohesion as well as investigating whether oxytocin can enhance the development of team coordination will be presented.