Effects of Oxytocin and Vasopressin on Preferential Brain Responses to Negative Social Feedback

Marta Gozzi, Erica M. Dashow, Audrey Thurm, Susan E. Swedo, Caroline F. Zink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Receiving negative social feedback can be detrimental to emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being, and fear of negative social feedback is a prominent feature of mental illnesses that involve social anxiety. A large body of evidence has implicated the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin in the modulation of human neural activity underlying social cognition, including negative emotion processing; however, the influence of oxytocin and vasopressin on neural activity elicited during negative social evaluation remains unknown. Here 21 healthy men underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design to determine how intranasally administered oxytocin and vasopressin modulated neural activity when receiving negative feedback on task performance from a study investigator. We found that under placebo, a preferential response to negative social feedback compared with positive social feedback was evoked in brain regions putatively involved in theory of mind (temporoparietal junction), pain processing (anterior insula and supplementary motor area), and identification of emotionally important visual cues in social perception (right fusiform). These activations weakened with oxytocin and vasopressin administration such that neural responses to receiving negative social feedback were not significantly greater than positive social feedback. Our results show effects of both oxytocin and vasopressin on the brain network involved in negative social feedback, informing the possible use of a pharmacological approach targeting these regions in multiple disorders with impairments in social information processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1409-1419
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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