Abstract # 49:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2006 03:30 PM-03:45 PM: Session 6 (Regency East #3) Oral Presentation


HANDLING AND EMOTIONALITY DURING COGNITIVE TESTING ON INFANT RHESUS MONKEYS (M. mulatta): OBJECT PERMANENCE AND THE WISCONSIN GENERAL TESTING APPARATUS (WGTA)

M. K. Unkefer1,2, C. I. Kenney1, H. K. Sidhu1,2, A. M. Ruggiero1, C. K. Lutz1, S. J. Suomi1 and M. S. Novak1
1NIH-NICHD-LCE NIH Animal Center, P.O. Box 529, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA, 2Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus
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     In laboratories that study infant development, cognitive testing is not uncommon. Two available testing series are object permanence and WGTA. At the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, Piagetian object permanence requires the infant to find an occluded object while the tester holds the infant and orients it towards the test. In WGTA testing, however, the infant is free roaming in a test cage which makes its attention and participation optional. Independent of the task, both situations involve different socio/cognitive/emotional demands. To assess differences the frequency of body spasms and screeches were recorded during both tasks. Animals that screeched during the simple two-object discrimination phase of WGTA were more likely to screech while searching for a hidden object in a previously unrewarded location, called the A NOT B phase of object permanence [r(7)=0.78, P=0.013]. Surprisingly, animals who screeched during the black/white adaptation phase of WGTA were less likely to body spasm during either plain reach or A NOT B, and the few that did body jerk during object permanence were less likely to screech during WGTA [r(7)=-0.77, P=0.015; r(7)=-0.76, P=0.018, respectively]. Overall negative correlations were more frequent [Binomial Sign Test p(40:59,0.50)=0.009] between behavior across the two tests, suggesting a tendency for infants who are not reactive when held for a task to be more reactive when free roaming, and vice versa. Research support by intramural research program of the NICHD at the NIH.