Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with problems in intimate relationships, partly due to deficits in social cognition. In this study, the role of arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the link between PTSD and partner-specific social cognition was examined. Participants were 24 individuals from 12 heterosexual couples in which at least one partner exhibited clinically significant PTSD symptoms. Attention to partner expressions of anger was examined as an indicator of distress and need for affiliative behaviors to repair the relationship bond. AVP administration improved the speed of men's attentional engagement with their partners' expressions of anger and alleviated the negative impact of PTSD on this social cognitive process. Further, men's morning urinary AVP levels were negatively correlated with their PTSD severity. No such effects were found among women or for attention to unfamiliar men's or women's anger expressions. Thus, the AVP system may function in the relationship problems associated with PTSD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology