Mentor: Dr. Natalie Eber
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"I became involved with research so that I could both learn more about the scientific process and make a meaningful contribution to society."
- Strokes and TIAs
- Socioemotional Functioning
- North Florida Regional Medical Center
- School Health Interdisciplinary Program
Hobbies and Interests
Socioemotional functioning involves a broad spectrum of abilities including prompt attention to certain emotions, accurate emotional expression identification, and memory for emotional faces. These abilities are crucial across the entire lifespan because they contribute to forming and maintaining interpersonal relationships and to successful social interactions. There is evidence that older adults increase their focus on close social relationships and appreciate them more than young adults. At the same time, however, various components of socioemotional functioning decline with age. Therefore older adults may be faced with a dilemma: their social relationships become more important to them, but their ability to accurately read and relate to other people’s social and emotional cues decrease. The particular factors that may underlie such age-related deficit in the ability to identify emotions are not known yet. One notable, and so far largely understudied, candidate is the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) and, in particular, age-associated dysfunctions in the OT system. There is increasing evidence that the OT pathway is involved in regulating socioemotional capabilities, including prosocial behavior such as empathy and trust. This research has almost exclusively been done with young adults and very little is known about the effects of OT in aging individuals. Therefore, the aim of my project is to examine the effects of OT on young and older adults’ perception of trustworthiness.