Principal Investigator: Tiffany Love
Keywords: fmri , oxytocin , brain , reward Department: Psychiatry
IRB Number: 00086964 Co Investigator: Jon-Kar Zubieta
Specialty: Psychiatry, Radiology
Sub Specialties: Magnetic Resonance Imaging – MRI
Recruitment Status: Active, not recruiting

Contact Information

Lauren Ericksen
smile@utah.edu
385-645-3674

Simple Summary

Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the brain that has been shown to have positive effects on social behaviors, like generosity, trust, and pair bonding. Oxytocin may encourage such behaviors by shaping activity within centers of the brain responsible for processing reward. The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that oxytocin can influence reward-related brain activity. To test this hypothesis we will measure brain activity during the performance of two reward tasks using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) after giving either oxytocin or placebo intranasally. We will be using an intranasal form of synthetic oxytocin that has been widely used in human research studies but is not currently approved by the FDA for marketing in the United States. Oxytocin intranasal spray is currently marketed and prescribed in Europe and Australia and the injectable form is commonly used and prescribed in the United States.

Inclusion Criteria

Volunteers will be recruited between the ages of 18-45 and with no current or past history of any serious medical, neurological, or illness and no acute medical illness.

Inclusion Criteria

General Inclusion Criteria for All Participants:

  • 18-45 years of age at the time of screening
  • No current or past history of neurological illness
  • No acute medical illness
  • Written informed consent obtained from subject

Additional Inclusion Criteria for Control group:

  • No current or past history of psychiatric illness, including substance use disorder (except nicotine)

Additional Inclusion Criteria for AUD group:

  • Meet DSM-5 criteria for current moderate-to-severe AUD
  • Abstinent from alcohol for 2-8 weeks prior to study enrollment
  • Express a desire to achieve abstinence or to greatly reduce alcohol consumption

Exclusion Criteria

Exclusion Criteria

General Exclusion Criteria for All Participants:

  • Known allergies to oxytocin or to preservatives in the nasal spray
  • Participants unable to tolerate the scanning procedures or would be unfit for scanning purposes (e.g. metal implants, claustrophobic, unable to lie still for the duration of the scan)
  • Female subjects who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or nursing
  • Any current or past history of any serious medical or neurological illness
  • Acute or uncorrected medical illnesses, including history of hepatic or renal dysfunction, hyponatremia, traumatic brain injury, atrophic rhinitis, recurrent nose bleeds, and cranial-surgical procedures (hypophysectomy).
  • Abnormal MRI (except if due to technical factors)
  • Participants reporting use of an intranasal medication that could not be stopped 48 hours prior to each scanning session
  • Participants taking medications including any current treatment with antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, psychostimulants and psychostimulant appetite suppressants, hormone use (i.e. testosterone, DHEA), opioid drugs, isoniazid, glucocorticoids, centrally active antihypertensive drugs (e.g., clonidine, reserpine), or sedative hypnotic medications (e.g. benzodiazepines, barbiturates, within 1 week prior to study enrollment). Treatment within six months with any of the following: hormone use (i.e. testosterone, DHEA), opioid drugs. Treatment within the past two weeks with an intranasally administered medication.
  • Participants that test positive for current illicit drug or alcohol use at the time of study visits
  • Unable to comply with study procedures or protocols

Additional Exclusion Criteria for Control group:

  • Any reported current (within the last 2 months) use of any category of illicit drugs

Additional Exclusion Criteria for AUD group:

  • History of, or current, psychotic disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or bipolar disorder
  • Concurrent posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Dependence (moderate to severe) to any other substance within the last 2 months other than alcohol or nicotine

Participant Reimbursement

Participants will be paid $25 for completing the inital survey battery, $60 for each fMRI scan and up to $40 more per scan depending on their performance on a money task completed during scanning. Reimbursement for the study will be between $145-$225 total.