Brain Ethics has found an intriguing study which suggests that giving people the hormone oxytocin makes them better at reading emotion from other people’s eyes.
Oxytocin is a hormone that also works as a neurotransmitter, and is known to be involved in bonding experiences.
It is released during sex, and also when mothers breast feed their infants.
A 2005 study published in Nature [pdf] suggested that oxytocin increased trustfulness in people playing a co-operative investment game.
This study, published in Biological Psychiatry, is the first to suggest that the a burst of the hormone actually makes us better at perceiving others’ emotions.
The full text of the study is available online as a pdf file if you want to get more details about the research.