Dr. Irene Pepperberg, a chemist and “bird-scientist” at Harvard University, spends her time teaching African Grey parrots how to talk and is applying the same concepts in teaching autistic patients. Could these “bird-brained” parrots crack the code to understanding and re-wiring autism?
A team at Yale University analyzed the effects of a new oxytocin nasal spray on social functioning of autistic children. They reported that the medication facilitated social functioning. Other experiments using animal models have shown that the medication promotes social behavior and bonding. With a little help from a few run-of-the-mill dairy cows, the role of oxytocin in social behaviors and anxiety is now paving the way towards new treatments for autism.