Abstract # 71:

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

Effects of Social Status on Differences in Mothering Style in Macaca Fascicularis

S. L. Willard and C. A. Shively
Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Comparative Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA
     Adult socially subordinate cynomolgus monkeys are more likely than dominants to exhibit behavioral depression. The developmental origins of this propensity for depressive behavior are unknown. In humans, parenting style affects the risk of depression later in life. Here we tested the hypothesis that parenting style differs between subordinate and dominant mothers in ways that may promote depressive behavior in offspring. Subjects were offspring of dominant (n=6) and subordinate (n=7) dams within a cynomolgus macaque breeding colony of 18 adult females and 3 adult males. Maternal social status was determined by recording ad libitum the outcomes of agonistic interactions between adult females. The behavior of mother-infant dyads was recorded daily from birth to two weeks of age in 10-minute focal infant samples. Behaviors recorded included the frequency and time spent by the mother protecting and retrieving the infant from physical contact with others, and restraining the infant while the infant struggled from the mother’s grasp. Subordinates protected and retrieved their infants more than dominants [Mann-Whitney U=7.0, p=0.029] and the offspring of subordinates struggled against maternal restraint more than those of dominants [Mann-Whitney U=8.0, p=0.056]. The results suggest that maternal social status may influence mothering style in ways that could contribute to the risk of depression later in life. Funded by MH5688 and a Wake Forest University Health Sciences Intramural Grant.