Alan F. Schatzberg

Publication Details

  • Postnatal experiences and genetic effects on squirrel monkey social affinities and emotional distress HORMONES AND BEHAVIOR Lyons, D. M., Martel, F. L., LEVINE, S., Risch, N. J., Schatzberg, A. F. 1999; 36 (3): 266-275


    Most nonhuman primate research on risk factors underlying vulnerability to stress has focused on early psychosocial experiences in various species of macaques. To test for genetic and experiential effects on emotional vulnerability in randomly bred squirrel monkeys, here we combined a paternal half-sibling analysis with three postnatal rearing protocols that altered aspects of maternal availability. In one condition offspring were periodically removed from natal groups, whereas differences in maternal availability were produced in two other conditions by manipulating the effort required of lactating mothers to successfully locate food. After completion of these protocols at 21 weeks of age, social affinities, maternal separation induced peep-calls, and plasma levels of cortisol were assessed from 29 to 37 weeks of age. Significant postnatal rearing effects and the lowest heritabilities were detected in peak elevations of cortisol measured 1 day after the removal of mothers from otherwise undisturbed groups. Individual differences in cortisol 3-7 days later revealed negligible postnatal rearing effects and the highest heritabilities (h(2) approximately. 70), as offspring sired by certain fathers failed to return to the preseparation level found in undisturbed natal groups. Paternal half-siblings that responded with long lasting increases in cortisol spent more time near their mother in undisturbed groups and exhibited long-lasting increases in separation induced peep-calls. These findings concur with human twin studies that suggest genetic and experiential factors contribute to individual differences in vulnerability to emotional distress.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000084740500007

    View details for PubMedID 10603290

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