Human neuroimaging of oxytocin and vasopressin in social cognition

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Abstract

The neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin have increasingly been identified as modulators of human social behaviors and associated with neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by social dysfunction, such as autism. Identifying the human brain regions that are impacted by oxytocin and vasopressin in a social context is essential to fully characterize the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in complex human social cognition. Advances in human non-invasive neuroimaging techniques and genetics have enabled scientists to begin to elucidate the neurobiological basis of the influence of oxytocin and vasopressin on human social behaviors. Here we review the findings to-date from investigations of the acute and chronic effects of oxytocin and vasopressin on neural activity underlying social cognitive processes using “pharmacological fMRI” and “imaging genetics”, respectively. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior.

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