The associations between endogenous oxytocin levels and emotion recognition in bipolar disorder
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Objective: Recent studies in patients with Bipolar Disorder (BD) have revealed problems in emotion recognition, specifically for negative emotions, which have been subsequently related to amygdala activity. Previously, the prosocial neuropeptide oxytocin has been shown to be one hormone that alters emotion perception capacities and modulates amygdala response. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to see if plasma oxytocin levels have specific effects on predicting emotion recognition patterns in BD. Methods: Twenty-eight remitted BD patients were recruited for this study and the Vienna Emotion Recognition Task was given. In addition, blood samples were collected for plasma oxytocin analysis. Results: Strong associations were found between fearful emotions and basal oxytocin levels, which were supported by a stepwise regression analysis. Patients with higher levels of basal oxytocin also exhibited greater recognition of fearful emotions. Conclusions: The relationship between recognition of fearful faces and individual endogenous oxytocin levels may contribute to explaining individual differences in social functioning and amygdala dysfunction in BD.