Abstract # 47:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 19, 2008 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 4 (Ball Rooms A and B) Poster Presentation

Gender differences on set-shifting and fine motor function tasks in adult rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

L. B. Kurdziel1, J. E. Young1, D. K. Ingram2 and J. A. Mattison3
1SoBran, Inc., Fairfax, VA 22031, USA, 2Nutritional Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory Pennington Biomedical Research Center Louisiana State University System, 3Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
     In addition to reproductive physiology and hormones, there are numerous gender differences among nonhuman primates. For example, males typically perform more accurately on spatial tasks, whereas females outperform males on recall and matching tasks. Further evaluation of cognitive gender differences could greatly benefit future research design and interpretation. We examined gender differences in set-shifting ability and fine motor skills in adult rhesus macaques. Set-shifting ability was assessed using a two-choice object discrimination and reversal task on a modified Wisconsin General Testing Apparatus. T-tests [a=0.05] show females (n=31) chose the correct object more often than males (n=25) on both the discrimination task and the reversal task demonstrating greater aptitude for set-shifting. Fine motor skills were assessed using a monkey Movement Assessment Panel in which we measured the time required to manipulate a LifeSavers® candy from a platform, a straight rod, and a hook. Females (n=20) were significantly faster than males (n=27) on the platform task and the hook task demonstrating better fine motor function. Results indicated two standard tasks on which female rhesus macaques outperformed males. Future experiments using similar tests should therefore control for potential gender differences. This research was supported (in part) by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Institute on Aging.