Autism Is Not Linked to Oxytocin Deficits, and Other News

A teacher reads to young studentsResearchers have commonly suspected that oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of love and attachment, was lacking in people on the autism spectrum, but a new study indicates that is not necessarily the case. It was assumed that insufficient oxytocin levels were responsible for the detachment and social difficulties commonly associated with autism. In fact, that is what researchers conducting the study expected to find.

The study evaluated oxytocin levels in nearly 200 children, including kids with autism, their siblings, and neurotypical kids. Results showed that the social capacity of all the children was affected by their oxytocin levels and that the levels varied among the groups. In other words, the kids with autism were not any more likely to display oxytocin deficiencies than any of the other kids. Researchers also found that each child’s oxytocin levels were closely linked to those of their parents, suggesting a strong genetic component. Further studies on oxytocin levels are underway.

Is Empathy in Humans and Apes Actually Different? ‘Yawn Contagion’ Effect Studied

The “yawn contagion” effect occurs when people yawn in response to yawns from those around them. Researchers believe it is an empathy-induced form of emotional contagion. Apes such as bonobos also show yawn contagion, and researchers have recently shown that contagion is stronger among close allies. For example, a person is more likely to yawn when his or her child or friend yawns than when a stranger yawns. 

Counselors Say Men Are More Willing to Try Couples Therapy When It Focuses On Results

Men are frequently resistant to couples therapy, potentially thwarting their relationships and emotional well-being. But marriage counselors say men are more willing to try therapy when they believe it will bring about positive results. Ultimatums and the fear that marriage counseling will be painful can be detrimental, but when men think counseling will solve problems, they’re more willing to give it a try. 

Flood of New Patients Worries Mental Health Care Workers

The Medicaid expansion in some states has resulted in an increased demand for mental health care services, with some agencies seeing their traffic increasing by more than 40%. Many organizations are already reporting longer wait times for mental health care and current estimates suggest that 2 million more people will seek behavioral health care by 2016, but most states have actually decreased their mental health care spending. With the number of psychiatrists entering the field dropping, there may not be enough care providers for everyone. In many cases, this means people are seeking mental health care from primary care physicians rather than psychiatrists or therapists.

Stigma Undermines Transgender Relationships

Transgender people are more vulnerable to a host of challenges, including violence, poverty, and ongoing transgender stigma. Researchers evaluated the effects that these challenges have on transgender women and their male partners. Not only does stigma harm each individual; it also undermines the couple’s relationship. 

Study Examines Why Couples Post ‘Lovey-Dovey’ Updates on Facebook

People who have happy relationships are more likely to openly proclaim their love on social media. But people who base their self-esteem on the quality of their romantic relationships are also likely to post such statuses. These users may also use social networking sites to monitor their romantic partners’ activities. 

Fear of Crime Can Be a Good Thing

According to new research that examined 1,600 adolescents across the country, fear of crime leads teens to avoid dangerous people and avoid committing crimes themselves. Researchers argue that anti-crime initiatives can be more effective than fear-reduction strategies, which might actually increase crime.

Fiction Stories May Improve Our Empathy

Regular exposure to fiction may improve empathy. The brain doesn’t process stories from fiction differently; instead, it analyzes this information in the same way it analyzes information about what’s happening in the world. In one study, for example, parents who recognized popular children’s book titles and authors—suggesting they had read these stories to or with their children—had children who scored higher on theory of mind tests. 

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  • Carlita


    August 15th, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    humans and apes are so closely related that yeah, I think that you would see a lot of similarities between them and the ways that certain information is processed.

  • Jay


    August 16th, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    There are those who post those updates on facebook because they truly are feeling loving and appreciative yoward their signicant other; and then there are those who are posting stuff like that and it is all just a bunch of crap. They do it for a variety of reasons- to make themselves look or feel better, or probably even to make someone else jealous. I am a little more private- my girlfriend knows I love her and I know she loves me and that is something that we don’t usually have to play out in public via social media. Every now and then it is really sweet but I think that you do it too much and it kind of loses the meaning and the intent behind it.

  • Louisa


    August 18th, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    so ladies, if you want your man to go to counseling with you, tell him that going will change absolutely everything, and he will be there with you! and make sure that the couselor will concur!

  • jonah


    August 18th, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    I was very afraid that this would happen in many specialty practices once the new health care system went into effect. There are way more people now seeking out care, which is great, but the nyumber of providers accepting their insurance is going down as a result in cuts in payments that are given to the doctors so the people who have already waited for health care now have to continue to do the same thing because there is still very much a lack of care.

  • Chernee


    August 19th, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    There are simply issues in a transgender relationship that those of us in a heterosexual relationship can never understand or relate to. Think about all of the prejudice that still remains in society, the pressure to hold a relationship together through all of that type of judgement and how hard it must be to even find someone to talk to because your problems could be so different than what the rest of us are experiencing.
    This is a reality of how unequal these relationships must still feel. they are no less caring and loving but the support out there for them is very limited compared the support for heterosexual relationships that most of us are in.

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