Intranasal oxytocin does not modulate jumping to conclusions in schizophrenia: Potential interactions with caudate volume and baseline social functioning

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Jul;81:80-87. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.03.020. Epub 2017 Mar 31.


Background: Patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) tend to sample less information when making a decision, jumping to conclusions (JTC) without sufficient evidence. This "JTC bias" may be a trait marker of the disease and may not improve with antipsychotic treatment. We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to test whether intranasal oxytocin could reduce JTC in stable, medicated patients with SCZ and healthy controls (HCs). We also explored whether striatal volume, clinical symptoms, and baseline social functioning (SF) was related to JTC performance.

Methods: Forty-three male, medicated SCZ patients (Mean Age: 40.81±11.44) and sixteen HCs (Mean Age: 30.38±9.85) participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. Participants completed the Beads Task on two separate visits (minimum 20days apart). Participants were randomized to receive either intranasal oxytocin (50IU in solution) or intranasal placebo (saline). Twenty of the SCZ patients and all sixteen HCs also provided T1 MRIs (3-T).

Results: Patients with SCZ took fewer draws to decision (DTD) than HCs (t(57)=2.78, p=0.007). Oxytocin did not significantly change DTD in patients (t(42)=-1.11, p=0.27), nor in HCs (t(15)=-0.62, p=0.55). Exploratory analyses found ventral caudate volumes were negatively correlated with DTD (r(18)=-0.50, p=0.03) in patients. Moreover, oxytocin was more likely to improve JTC in patients with lower baseline SF. However, these exploratory findings did not survive correction for multiple comparisons.

Conclusions: We replicate increased JTC in SCZ. However, acute intranasal oxytocin did not modify JTC. Future studies with larger samples should explore how brain morphology and SF are related to JTC performance in patients with SCZ.

Keywords: Beads task; Caudate; Jumping to conclusions; Morphometry; Oxytocin; Schizophrenia; Social cognition; Volume.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adult
  • Caudate Nucleus / drug effects*
  • Caudate Nucleus / pathology*
  • Decision Making / drug effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuroimaging
  • Oxytocin / administration & dosage*
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology*
  • Oxytocin / therapeutic use
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Young Adult


  • Oxytocin