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Oxytocin nasal spray studies

Our ground-breaking research has investigated the effectiveness of oxytocin nasal spray in addressing social and emotional challenges in autistic children and adolescents.


This book chapter provides an overview of the oxytocinergic system and its role in social behavior, including the relationship between oxytocin and social behavior in neurotypical individuals, the proposed role of the oxytocinergic system in autism and Williams syndrome, and how future research can best harness the potential of oxytocin, so we can better identify the people who are likely to benefit from oxytocin treatment, and intervene at the right time.

Boulton, K. A., & Guastella, A. J. (2022). The Importance of Experimental Investigation of the CNS Oxytocin System. In Oxytocin (pp. 53-65). Humana, New York, NY.

We investigated the efficacy, tolerability and safety of oxytocin treatment in autistic children. Compared with placebo, oxytocin led to significant improvements in caregiver-reported social responsiveness. Overall, nasal spray was also well tolerated. This study is the first clinical trial to support the potential of oxytocin as an early intervention to help autistic children with challenges in social interaction.

Yatawara, C. J., Einfeld, S. L., Hickie, I. B., Davenport, T. A., & Guastella, A. J. (2016). The effect of oxytocin nasal spray on social interaction deficits observed in young children with autism: a randomized clinical crossover trial. Molecular psychiatry, 21(9), 1225-1231.



We investigated the efficacy of a course of oxytocin nasal spray to improve social behavior in autistic youth. Participants who received oxytocin showed no benefit following treatment on primary or secondary outcomes. However, caregivers who believed their children received oxytocin reported greater improvements compared to caregivers who believed their child received placebo.

Guastella, A. J., Gray, K. M., Rinehart, N. J., Alvares, G. A., Tonge, B. J., Hickie, I. B., ... & Einfeld, S. L. (2015). The effects of a course of intranasal oxytocin on social behaviors in youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(4), 444-452.

We investigated whether oxytocin nasal spray may support autistic youth with recogning the emotions of others. This study provides the first evidence that oxytocin nasal spray improves emotion recognition in young autistic people. 

Guastella, A. J., Einfeld, S. L., Gray, K. M., Rinehart, N. J., Tonge, B. J., Lambert, T. J., & Hickie, I. B. (2010). Intranasal oxytocin improves emotion recognition for youth with autism spectrum disorders. Biological psychiatry, 67(7), 692-694.


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