Oxytocin effects on human affect and cognition

Master's Thesis


The hormone oxytocin (OT) has been associated with stress-reduction and social affiliation, and influences cognition and memory. Intranasal OT is used to manipulate OT in the brain to study the hormone’s effects. However, extant literature associating OT with cognition is inconsistent, few studies have examined OT and cognition in women, and it is unclear whether OT exerts global or targeted cognitive effects. In a double-blind design, forty-two women received 24 I.U. intranasal OT or saline before completing an N-back working memory task and viewing stimuli from an emotional memory task. Forty-eight hours later, participants completed the N-back again and were tested on memory of the emotional pictures. Saliva samples were also provided to examine OT’s effects on other hormones. OT inhibited working memory and did not affect emotional memory. Hormone analyses revealed OT increased cortisol and progesterone, and decreased testosterone.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07182012-172801

Author Allison Elizabeth Gaffey
Advisor Michelle M. Wirth
Contributor Michael Villano, Committee Member
Contributor Michelle M. Wirth, Committee Chair
Contributor Jessica D. Payne, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Psychology
Degree Name Master of Arts
Defense Date
  • 2012-07-09

Submission Date 2012-07-18
  • United States of America

  • oxytocin

  • affect

  • cortisol

  • emotional memory

  • working memory

  • progesterone

  • testosterone

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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