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 Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>