When Two Become One: The Role of Oxytocin in Interpersonal Coordination and Cooperation

Maayan Arueti, Nufar Perach-Barzilay, Michael M. Tsoory, Barry Berger, Nir Getter, Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cooperation involves intentional coordinated acts performed to achieve potentially positive outcomes. Here we present a novel explanatory model of cooperation, which focuses on the role of the oxytocinergic system in promoting interpersonal coordination and synchrony. Cooperation was assessed using a novel computerized drawing task that may be performed individually or cooperatively by two participants who coordinate their actions. Using a within-subject crossover design, 42 participants performed the task alone and with a partner following the administration of placebo and oxytocin 1 week apart. The data indicate that following placebo administration, participants performed better alone than in pairs. Yet, the administration of oxytocin improved paired performance up to the level of individual performance. This effect depended on the personality traits of cooperativeness or competitiveness. It is concluded that oxytocin may play a key role in enhancing social synchrony and coordination of behaviors required for cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1418-1427
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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