Sex-specific influences of vasopressin on human social communication

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 May 16;103(20):7889-94. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0600406103. Epub 2006 May 8.

Abstract

Arginine vasopressin (AVP) and related peptides affect social behaviors in numerous species, but AVP influences on human social functions have not yet been established. Here, we describe how intranasal AVP administration differentially affects social communication in men and women, and we propose a mechanism through which it may exert those influences. In men, AVP stimulates agonistic facial motor patterns in response to the faces of unfamiliar men and decreases perceptions of the friendliness of those faces. In contrast, in women, AVP stimulates affiliative facial motor patterns in response to the faces of unfamiliar women and increases perceptions of the friendliness of those faces. AVP also affected autonomic responsiveness to threatening faces and increased anxiety, which may underlie both communication patterns by promoting different social strategies in stressful contexts in men and women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / administration & dosage
  • Arginine Vasopressin / metabolism
  • Arginine Vasopressin / pharmacology*
  • Communication*
  • Electromyography
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*

Substances

  • Arginine Vasopressin