Researchers Uncover Potential New Social Support for Autism

Autism pic

A distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Gregg Gorton has excelled in clinical practice and as an educator. Dr. Gregg Gorton stands out as a two-time recipient of Philadelphia magazine’s Top Doc designation and receives many requests to consult on cases regarding the use of psychopharmacological interventions.

In early 2016, the journal Psychopharmacology published the results of a study that indicated the potential benefits of using the blood pressure drug propranolol to assist individuals with autism. Research conducted in the 1980s had indicated the drug’s effectiveness in improving social skills and language for such individuals, although the research had been criticized for flaws in the methodology and no additional research had been done to address that issue. Now, thanks to a team at the University of Missouri’s Center for Translational Neuroscience, data confirms that a single dose of this drug can increase conversational reciprocity in those on the autism spectrum.

Participants in the study received either 40 milligrams of propranolol or a placebo pill. One hour after dosage, researchers conducted a conversation with each participant and conducted an assessment of such conversational social skills as reciprocity, eye contact, and topic consistency. Results showed that total scores were significantly higher in those who received propranolol. The team hopes to follow up on these results with a larger clinical trial, which will study the potential effects of regular dosage as well as the drug’s effect on particular populations.