The effect of intranasal administration of oxytocin on fear recognition

M. Fischer-Shofty, S. G. Shamay-Tsoory, H. Harari, Y. Levkovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The oxytocinergic system has recently been placed amongst the most promising targets for various psychiatric treatments due to its role in prosocial behavior and anxiety reduction. Although recent studies have demonstrated a general effect of administration of oxytocin on emotion recognition, no study to date has examine the effect of oxytocin on each emotion separately. In the present study, a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover design was used in a dynamic facial expression task, in order to assess the effects of administration of oxytocin on emotion recognition. A single dose of oxytocin or a placebo was administered intranasally to 27 healthy male subjects 45 min prior to task performance. The results showed that a single intranasal administration of oxytocin, as opposed to the placebo, improved the subjects' ability to recognize fear, but not other emotions. These results suggest a specific role for oxytocin in fear recognition, which could be relevant for clinical disorders that manifest deficits in processing emotional facial expressions, particularly fear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Emotion
  • Facial expression
  • Fear
  • Oxytocin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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