Background: Child maltreatment is a major health and social welfare problem, with serious and longstanding consequences. Impulse control ability plays an important role in reducing the risk of child maltreatment. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of oxytocin (OXT) and prolactin (PRL) with behavior inhibition using children's facial expressions (angry or neutral) as emotional distractions. This may clarify a part of the neuroendocrinological mechanism that modulates impulse control ability in the context of child caregiving. Methods: Participants were 16 females who had never been pregnant. Following venous blood sampling for OXT and PRL levels, participants performed an emotional Go/Nogo task during their follicular and luteal phases to test inhibitory control ability. Behavioral performance and event-related potentials (ERPs) during the task were measured. Results: The results showed that there were significant fixed effects of OXT on behavioral performance, as measured by sensitivity (d-prime). This suggests that high peripheral OXT levels may be associated with better performance on the emotional Go/Nogo task, regardless of emotional distractors. PRL was associated with inhibitory processes as reflected by the Nogo-N2 and Nogo-P3. Particularly, high PRL levels were associated with the Nogo-N2 latency extension with the emotional distractors. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that OXT might be associated with improving behavioral performance regardless of emotional processes. It is suggested that processes related to PRL are related to premotor activities of behavioral inhibitions and emotions.
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