A neuroendocrine study of cooperative behavior: the moderating effects of oxytocin, decision context, and social values

PhD student
Bruno Lambert

Prof. dr. Carolyn Declerck (promotor)
Prof. dr. Christophe Boone (promotor)
Prof. dr. Paul Parizel (promotor)

The role of oxytocin and the moderating effect of social context and personality on human affiliative behavior

The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has been shown to play a crucial role in establishing trust and cooperation due to its anxiolytic effect and regulation of social affiliation. Recent research indicates that individual differences in OT metabolism correlate with differences in several aspects of social behavior (including empathy, stress reactivity, and an increased likelihood of autism). In addition, the effect of OT on trust and social affiliation appears to depend on contextual inputs and vary with personal characteristics.

The purpose of the current study is therefore twofold. First, we intend to investigate the moderating influence of the social context and personality traits on the behavioral consequences of extraneous nasal OT (versus placebo) administration. Second, we want to gain more insight into the underlying neural mechanism by which  OT induces trust and affiliation. Specifically, we explore by means of fMRI and DTI the functional and anatomical connectivity between the neural correlates of fear regulation (amygdala) and social approach (nucleus accumbens).

PhD dissertation, Univerisity of Antwerp - Faculty of Medicines and Applied Economics, 2017