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Time perception depends on an event’s emotional relevance to the beholder; a subjective time dilation effect is associated with self-relevant, emotionally salient stimuli. Previous studies have revealed that oxytocin modulates the salience of social stimuli and attention to social cues. However, whether the oxytocin system is involved in human subjective time perception is unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether increased oxytocin levels would induce a time dilation effect for self-relevant, positive social cues. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subject design, heterosexual men were administered intranasal oxytocin or placebo. After about 50 min, participants completed a time-bisection task in which they estimated lengths of exposure to happy female faces (self-relevant positive stimuli, based on sexual orientation), emotionally neutral and negative female faces (control), and happy, neutral, and negative male faces (control). Oxytocin induced a subjective time dilation effect for happy female faces and a time compression effect for happy male faces. Our results provide evidence that oxytocin influences time perception, a primary form of human subjectivity.

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