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Journal Article

Genetic variation in the oxytocin system and its link to social motivation in human infants

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Krol,  K. M.
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA;
Max Planck Research Group Early Social Development, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Grossmann,  Tobias
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA;
Max Planck Research Group Early Social Development, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Krol, K. M., Namaky, N., Monakhov, M. V., Lai, P. S., Ebstein, R., & Grossmann, T. (2021). Genetic variation in the oxytocin system and its link to social motivation in human infants. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 131: 105290. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105290.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-BA52-A
Abstract
Frontal brain asymmetry has been linked to motivational processes in infants and adults, with left lateralization reflecting motivation to approach and right lateralization reflecting motivation to withdraw. We examined the hypothesis that variability in infants’ social motivation may be linked to genetic variation in the oxytocin system. Eleven-month-old infants’ brain responses and looking preferences to smiling and frowning individuals were assessed in conjunction with a polymorphism in CD38 (rs3796863) linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and reduced oxytocin. Frontal brain asymmetry and looking preferences differed as a function of CD38 genotype. While non-risk A-allele carriers displayed left lateralization to smiling faces (approach) and a heightened looking preference for the individual who smiled, infants with the CC (ASD risk) genotype displayed withdrawal from smiling faces and a preference for the individual who frowned. Findings demonstrate that the oxytocin system is linked to brain and behavioral markers of social motivation in infancy.