Oxytocin makes a face in memory familiar

J Neurosci. 2009 Jan 7;29(1):38-42. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4260-08.2009.


Social recognition is the basis of all social interactions. Here, we show that, in humans, the evolutionarily highly conserved neuropeptide oxytocin, after intranasal administration, specifically improves recognition memory for faces, but not for nonsocial stimuli. With increased oxytocin levels, previously presented faces were more correctly assessed as "known," whereas the ability of recollecting faces was unchanged. This pattern speaks for an immediate and selective effect of the peptide strengthening neuronal systems of social memory.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Face*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / drug effects
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects*
  • Sex Factors
  • Wakefulness / drug effects
  • Young Adult


  • Oxytocin