Abstract # 2123 Event # 202:

Scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2007 10:45 AM-11:00 AM: Session 20 (North Main Hall F/G) Oral Presentation


TO BITE OR NOT TO BITE: INTERRELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SELF-INJURIOUS BEHAVIOR (SIB), PLASMA CORTISOL AND TASK PERFORMANCE IN RHESUS MONKEYS (Macaca mulatta)

B. J. Kelly1, M. A. Novak1,2,3 and J. S. Meyer1,2
1Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Tobin Hall, Amherst, MA 01003, USA, 2Psychology Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Tobin Hall, Amherst, MA 01003, USA, 3New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, MA 01772, USA
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     Rhesus monkeys with SIB show a blunted stress response (low cortisol) in comparison to controls. Other studies have found that administration of cortisol interferes with performance on cognitive tasks. We tested the hypothesis that low stress reactivity would facilitate performance. Male rhesus monkeys (10 SIB, 8 Control) were exposed to a box transfer task involving visible and invisible transfers. An experimenter concealed a treat in one of three boxes. She then moved that box next to another one and transferred the treat either in sight of or out of view of the monkey; on some trials she made no transfer. The experimenter then revealed the empty box and allowed the monkey to search for the treat. SIB monkeys tended to perform better than controls overall [t(16)=-2.10, p<0.06] and as a group performed significantly better than chance on the difficult invisible transfer [t(9)=3.24, p<0.025]. Five SIB monkeys were successful on the invisible transfer, whereas only one control succeeded. Successful performance on all tasks was negatively correlated with plasma cortisol levels [c2(1)=10.34, r(1) =-0.699, p<0.001]. SIB monkeys that successfully solved the invisible transfer task had significantly lower cortisol levels than those that did not [t(8)=-2.45, p<0.05). Whereas monkeys treated with stress-related doses of cortisol show disrupted performance on cognitive tasks, our data suggest that reduced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical reactivity may have a beneficial effect. Supported by RR11122 and RR00168.