Influence of Oxytocin on Resting State Neurophysiological Measures


In this study, the investigators will explore the influence of oxytocin administration on several neurophysiological responses (EEG, skin conductance and heart rate) during rest.

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Basic Science
    • Masking: Triple (Participant, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: May 18, 2018

Detailed Description

Oxytocin is known to influence several neurophysiological measures, such as heart rate, EEG and skin conductance during specific tasks (e.g., emotion recognition, fear learning and extinction). However, not much is known about the influence of oxytocin on those measures during rest. Therefore, in this randomized, placebo controlled, double blinded study, the investigators will investigate the influence of oxytocin during a resting period of 5 minutes. Heart rate, skin conductance, respiration and EEG will be measured before and after oxytocin or placebo administration. The investigators expect that oxytocin will increase the heart rate variability and decrease the skin conductance levels. Exploratory, the investigators will conduct a cross-frequency analysis of band power and asses the relationship between distinct indexes of sympathetic / parasympathetic balance.

Please note that this study is part of a larger study in which the investigators also asses the influence of oxytocin on neurophysiological responses elicited by direct gaze


  • Drug: Oxytocin
    • Syntocinon nasal spray
  • Drug: Placebo
    • Placebo nasal spray

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Experimental: Oxytocin
    • Syntocinon nasal spray (40 IU/ml; oxytocin, product code RVG 03716); single intranasal dose of 24 international units (IU; 3 puffs of 4 IU per nostril)
  • Placebo Comparator: Placebo
    • saline natriumchloride solution nasal spray; single intranasal dose (3 puffs per nostril)

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Change in heart rate variability after oxytocin administration
    • Time Frame: Assessment over 5 minutes, before and after oxytocin or placebo administration
    • The influence of oxytocin administration on heart rate variability

Secondary Measures

  • Change in skin conductance level after oxytocin administration
    • Time Frame: Assessment over 5 minutes, before and after oxytocin or placebo administration
    • The influence of oxytocin administration on skin conductance level

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • right-handed
  • male
  • age between 18 and 35
  • Normal or adjusted-to-normal vision (with lenses only)
  • Dutch as mother tongue

Exclusion Criteria

  • not right-handed
  • female
  • age below 18 or above 35
  • Need to wear glasses
  • Dutch not as mother tongue

Gender Eligibility: Male

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: 38 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • KU Leuven
  • Collaborator
    • Research Foundation Flanders
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Kaat Alaerts, Prof. Dr. Kaat Alaerts – KU Leuven
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Kaat Alaerts, PhD, Principal Investigator, KU Leuven

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