Table of Contents
Journal of Hormones
Volume 2013, Article ID 386306, 4 pages
Research Article

The Effects of Acute Arginine Vasopressin Administration on Social Cognition in Healthy Males

Brain & Mind Research Institute, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia

Received 25 March 2013; Revised 26 April 2013; Accepted 13 May 2013

Academic Editor: Elisabetta Baldi

Copyright © 2013 Amanda R. Kenyon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The structurally similar neuropeptides and hormones oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) play significant and complex roles in modulating a range of social behaviours, including social recognition and bond formation. Although OT has well-known roles in facilitating prosocial behaviors and enhancing emotion recognition, AVP has received increasing interest for diverging effects on social cognition behaviour most notably in males. The current study aimed to determine whether AVP also modulates the ability to understand emotion. Using a randomised double blind procedure, 45 healthy young males received either an AVP or placebo nasal spray and completed the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). In contrast to previous findings, there were no significant differences observed in performance on the RMET between AVP and placebo groups, even after examining items separated by task difficulty, emotional valence, and gender. This study provides diverging evidence from previous findings and adds to the growing body of research exploring the influence of neuropeptide hormones in social behaviour. It demonstrates that in this sample of participants, AVP does not enhance the ability to understand higher order emotion from others. Implications and suggestions for future AVP administration studies are discussed.