Quantitative Genetics of Response to Novelty and Other Stimuli by Infant Rhesus Macaques () Across Three Behavioral Assessments.

TitleQuantitative Genetics of Response to Novelty and Other Stimuli by Infant Rhesus Macaques () Across Three Behavioral Assessments.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsFawcett, GL, Dettmer, AM, Kay, D, Raveendran, M, Higley, JD, Ryan, ND, Cameron, JL, Rogers, J
JournalInt J Primatol
Date Published2014 Feb 01

Primate behavior is influenced by both heritable factors and environmental experience during development. Previous studies of rhesus macaques () examined the effects of genetic variation on expressed behavior and related neurobiological traits (heritability and/or genetic association) using a variety of study designs. Most of these prior studies examined genetic effects on the behavior of adults or adolescent rhesus macaques, not in young macaques early in development. To assess environmental and additive genetic variation in behavioral reactivity and response to novelty among infants, we investigated a range of behavioral traits in a large number ( = 428) of pedigreed infants born and housed in large outdoor corrals at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). We recorded the behavior of each subject during a series of brief tests, involving exposure of each infant to a novel environment, to a social threat without the mother present, and to a novel environment with its mother present but sedated. We found significant heritability ( ) for willingness to move away from the mother and explore a novel environment ( = 0.25 ± 0.13; = 0.003). The infants also exhibited a range of heritable behavioral reactions to separation stress or to threat when the mother was not present ( = 0.23 ± 0.13-0.24 ± 0.15, < 0.01). We observed no evidence of maternal environmental effects on these traits. Our results extend knowledge of genetic influences on temperament and reactivity in nonhuman primates by demonstrating that several measures of behavioral reactivity among infant rhesus macaques are heritable.

Alternate JournalInt J Primatol
PubMed ID24701001
PubMed Central IDPMC3970820
Grant ListUL1 TR000005 / TR / NCATS NIH HHS / United States
UL1 RR024153 / RR / NCRR NIH HHS / United States
R24 RR015383 / RR / NCRR NIH HHS / United States
R01 MH062568 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
P01 MH041712 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
F32 NS074574 / NS / NINDS NIH HHS / United States