Oxytocin, a peptide hormone first studied for its roles in childbirth and lactation, has been a hot topic recently, partly because of excitement around the idea of using it to treat autism spectrum disorders. (There has even been a bit of a backlash.)Â Larry Young is quoted extensively in Greg Miller’s balanced take on oxytocin in Science:
“In my view, the best benefit from stimulating the oxytocin system is going to be to combine it with a controlled behavioral therapy,” Emory’s Young says. He believes that oxytocin’s main effect is to make people more sensitive to social cues. In a therapist’s office, children could be assured of receiving positive, reinforcing social cues while under the hormone’s sway. Not so if they cheap oakley sunglasses simply take the hormone and went about their day. “Say you give it to a kid and then he goes to school and gets bullied. That’s not going to have a positive impact, and it may even make things worse,” Young says.
A better handle on the basic biology of intranasal oxytocin, such as how it enters the brain and which receptors it hits, might enable researchers to develop more effective drugs, Young adds. “If we want to move beyond this initial investigatory era and get more sophisticated and potent effects, we need to understand the mechanisms.”
Young is the chief of the division of behavioral neuroscience at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, the director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience and William P. Timmie professor of psychiatry. He is well known for his research on the neuroscience of social bonding in voles, and recently co-authored a book titled “The Chemistry Between Us.” His laboratory is engaged in research outlined in the second part of his quote above.