A hormone thought to promote bonding between mothers and their babies may encourage social behavior in some adults with autism, as has been shared by a French research on Monday.
The scientists found patients who inhaled the hormone oxytocin paid more attention to expressions when looking at pictures of faces and were more likely to understand social cues in a game simulation, the researchers said in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Angela Sirigu, who led the study, said the hormone has a therapeutic potential in adults as well as in children with autism.
"For instance, if oxytocin is administered early when the diagnosis is made, we can perhaps change very early the impaired social development of autistic patients," Sirigu said in an email.
Sirigu said the study focused on oxytocin because it was known to help breast-feeding mothers bond with their infants and because earlier research has shown that some children with autism have low levels of the hormone.
Sirigu said oxytocin could help autism patients who have normal intellectual functions and fairly good language abilities because it improves eye contact.
"Eye contact can be considered the first step of social approach," Sirigu said. But people with autism often avoid looking at others.
She said the hormone also improves the ability of people with autism to understand how other people respond to them, and they can learn the appropriate response to others' behavior.
Reuters has contributed to the report.