Abstract # 70:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2007 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 7 (South Main Hall) Poster Presentation

Handling and Cognitive Testing in Infant Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Alters their Behavioral Development

M. L. Snyder1,2, A. Lusk1,3, M. L. Miller1, L. Darcey1, A. M. Ruggiero1, M. L. Schwandt4, C. S. Barr4, S. J. Suomi1 and M. F. S. X. Novak1
1Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, NICHD, NIH, NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA, 2George Mason University, 3Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus, 4Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies, NIAAA, NIH
     Human handling is believed to be a necessary component in producing species-typical behavioral development for nursery-reared macaque monkeys (Macaca sp). In this study we were interested in determining the degree to which handling associated with cognitive/emotional testing affects behavioral development in nursery-reared infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). As part of instituting cognitive and emotional developmental testing, we assigned animals to 3 groups varying in levels of handling and testing. All groups received routine handling by nursery staff for clinical and behavioral assessments. The low group (n=16) received no additional testing weekly. The medium group (n=11) received additional handling three days a week during testing. The high group (n=13) received additional handling during one or more tests five days a week. These animals were hand carried to and from the testing apparatus by research staff. To assess differences among these groups, behavioral data were collected during social play groups during other parts of the day. Repeated measures ANOVA showed animals that were handled less often and not tested exhibited higher levels of environmental exploration [F(2,17)=4.64, p=0.025] and lower levels of locomotion [F(2,17)=14.04, p<0.001]. However, there were no significant differences in the amount of stereotypies, play, or social contact among the groups [ps>0.05]. Further research is needed to determine whether it is specifically additional handling or effects of testing that alter social behavioral development. Supported by intramural research at NICHD, NIH.