Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Social behavior among monkeys may be more nature than nurture

04.12.2003


An unusual experiment with monkeys who were switched between mothers shortly after birth has demonstrated the importance of nature over nurture in behavior.



Young monkeys reared by a mother other than their own are more likely to exhibit the aggressive or friendly behavior of their birth mothers rather than the behavior of their foster mothers, a University of Chicago researcher has shown for the first time.

The discovery of inheritability of social behavior traits among non-human primates has important implications for people as it reinforces other research that suggests that such characteristics as sociability and impulsive aggressiveness among humans may have a genetic basis, said Dario Maestripieri, Associate Professor in Human Development at the University. The work with monkeys may help other researchers understand the biological origins of characteristics that promote socialization among humans, he said.


His work on monkeys is reported in the article "Similarities in Affiliation and Aggression Between Cross-Fostered Rhesus Macaque Females and Their Biological Mothers," published in the current issue of Developmental Psychobiology.

Rhesus macaques provide an important research population because they organize in strong matrilineal structures, and the female offspring often exhibit the same social behavior as their mothers. The experiment was intended to show if some aspects of that behavior were inherited or learned by the female offspring.

"I was surprised by what we found," Maestripieri said. Scholars have felt that social learning from the mother would play an important role in the development of female social behavior from early infancy. The study shows that inherited behavioral predispositions are probably more important.

For the study, Maestripieri and his colleagues swapped rhesus monkey female babies between mothers who had recently given birth. These adoptions are typically difficult to achieve, but the team was much more successful than other researchers have been by making the matches soon after birth.

To understand the origins of behavior, the team looked at the expression of social contact and aggression among the offspring and their biological and foster mothers. The researchers noted, for example, how many times the offspring had bodily contact and how many times they expressed aggression, such as threats, slaps, bites and chases with other group members.

When Maestripieri looked at the behavior of the monkey offspring and their mothers over the span of three years, he found that while the offspring’s behavior mirrored the behavior of their biological mothers, there was practically no similarity between the offspring and their foster mothers. For instance, offspring who often used threats and slaps to get their way had biological mothers who also displayed that behavior, he found.

Primate expert Joan Silk, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said, "This study adds to a growing body of evidence that temperament and behavioral predispositions vary among individuals and that temperamental differences are stable over the life course. However, it is usually difficult to determine whether such differences are the results of inherited dispositions and/or the effects of environment and experience.

"Using an innovative design to disentangle the effects of ’nature’ and ’nurture,’ Maestripieri demonstrates that heredity has a surprisingly important impact on the behavioral dispositions of infant macaques. These findings have important implications for understanding how evolution shapes behavior and temperament in primates and humans," she added.

William Harms | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.medcenter.uchicago.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht “Pregnant” Housefly Males Demonstrate the Evolution of Sex Determination
23.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus
22.05.2017 | University of Toronto

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>