Vasopressin modulates social recognition-related activity in the left temporoparietal junction in humans.
Zink CF., Kempf L., Hakimi S., Rainey CA., Stein JL., Meyer-Lindenberg A.
The neuropeptide vasopressin is a key molecular mediator of social behavior in animals and humans, implicated in anxiety and autism. Social recognition, the ability to assess the familiarity of others, is essential for appropriate social interactions and enhanced by vasopressin; however, the neural mechanisms mediating this effect in humans are unknown. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and an implicit social recognition matching task, we employed a double-blinded procedure in which 20 healthy male volunteers self-administered 40 UI of vasopressin or placebo intranasally, 45 min before performing the matching task in the scanner. In a random-effects fMRI analysis, we show that vasopressin induces a regionally specific alteration in a key node of the theory of mind network, the left temporoparietal junction, identifying a neurobiological mechanism for prosocial neuropeptide effects in humans that suggests novel treatment strategies.