Intranasal administration of oxytocin (OT) has been found to facilitate prosocial behaviors, emotion recognition and cooperation between individuals. Recent electroencephalography (EEG) investigations have reported enhanced mu rhythm (alpha: 8–13 Hz; beta: 15–25 Hz) desynchronization during the observation of biological motion and stimuli probing social synchrony after the administration of intranasal OT. This hormone may therefore target a network of cortical circuits involved in higher cognitive functions, including the mirror neuron system (MNS). Here, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects exploratory study, we investigated whether intranasal OT modulates the cortical activity from sensorimotor areas during the observation and the execution of social and non-social grasping actions. Participants underwent EEG testing after receiving a single dose (24 IU) of either intranasal OT or placebo. Results revealed an enhancement of alpha - but not beta - desynchronization during observation and execution of social grasps, especially over central and parietal electrodes, in participants who received OT (OT group). No differences between the social and non-social condition were found in the control group (CTRL group). Moreover, we found a significant difference over the cortical central-parietal region between the OT and CTRL group only within the social condition. These results suggest a possible action of intranasal OT on sensorimotor circuits involved in social perception and action understanding, which might contribute to facilitate the prosocial effects typically reported by behavioral studies.
- Grasping actions
- Mirror neuron system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry