Neuropeptides are small molecules that act as messengers between different brain regions. There are roughly 100 neuropeptides that are important for various functions, including hunger, memory, and learning. Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that plays a crucial role in childbirth and breastfeeding. More recently, oxytocin has been shown to be essential for our social behaviors. When given to people in the form of a nasal spray, oxytocin can change key aspects of social behavior, such as how easily we can recognize emotions in others. People with autism often have difficulties in understanding and using social information, and scientists have been testing oxytocin nasal spray as a potential treatment. But how does oxytocin nasal spray travel from the nose to the brain, and how does it change how we behave socially?
Quintana, D.S. and Alvares, G. A. (2016). Oxytocin: How does this neuropeptide change our social behavior? Frontiers for Young Minds, 4(7). doi: 10.3389/frym.2016.00007