Date of Graduation

5-2013

Level of Access

Restricted: Archival Copy [No Access]

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Neuroscience

Number of Pages

67

First Advisor

Koven, Nancy

Abstract

Schizotypy is conceptualized as the subclinical presentation of schizophrenic psychopathology, and involves affective, cognitive, and perceptual disturbances, as well as impaired social cognition. The neuropeptide oxytocin, which facilitates emotion recognition, bonding, trust, and attachment, is thought to play a role in the etiology of schizophrenia and evidence suggests that reduced levels of oxytocin contribute to the disease. However, it has not been determined if oxytocin abnormalities are detectible in schizotypy. The present study sought to examine the degree of correlation between peripheral levels of oxytocin and self-report indices of schizoptypy in a sample of young adults. Additionally, the influence of oxytocin on the relationship between schizotypy and social cognition was assessed. Tests of social cognition included the Mayer- Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test as well as a novel task that assessed emotion recognition derived from the Penn Emotion Recognition Task. Peripheral oxytocin levels were examined with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay from saliva samples obtained per participant. Correlation and regression analysis indicated that oxytocin levels were positively associated with socioaffective difficulties, and that this relationship was moderated by emotional experiencing abilities as measured by the MSCEIT. This unexpected finding indicates that high levels of oxytocin may contribute to social cognitive impairments in a subset of individuals.

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