Monday, December 09, 2013

Overoptimistic headlines, CCXXIII

"Study Shows Oxytocin Improves Brain Function in Children with Autism". Giving oxytocin to ASD children 8-16 seems to change what lights up in the brain. OK, so it does--maybe: 17 is a small sample. But if you read the full study you find this problem:
Overall, behavioral accuracy and reaction times on the RMET did not differ for OT (oxytocin) vs. Placebo visits ( Fig. S3). This is consistent with the empirical record, which shows improvements only on some items from the RMET, according to difficulty level, but not overall (11, 22)

So the brain lights up differently, but there was no change in ability to guess someone's mood looking at just the eyes.

"Our results are particularly important considering the urgent need for treatments to target social dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders," Gordon added.

I think that translates as "we know something else that doesn't work, but it was worth a try."

But who knows, maybe high doses with early intervention might have some effect, though it'd be a while before we found out. Be nice if there were a silver bullet or two.

No comments: