Abstract # 48:

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

Basal Cortisol Levels Are Unrelated To Temperament In Rhesus Macaque Infants (Macaca mulatta)

A. M. Ruggiero1, A. M. Dettmer1,2, M. A. Novak2,3, J. S. Meyer2,3 and S. J. Suomi1
1Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, National Institutes of Health (NICHD), Poolesvillle, MD, USA, 2Neuroscience & Behavior Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, 3Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
     Previous studies linking cortisol levels with temperament have focused on adult primates and stress reactivity, but not infant baseline cortisol levels and temperament. We therefore set out to determine if acute and/or chronic basal cortisol concentrations were related to temperament scores in infant rhesus monkeys. We examined baseline salivary cortisol levels obtained on day 30 just prior to Brazleton testing and hair cortisol levels obtained at six months of age in relation to an average of temperament item scores for each animal on their day 30 Brazelton test. There were a total of 24 subjects: 8 mother-reared, 16 nursery-reared; 12 males, 12 females. T-tests [a=0.05] revealed no significant sex or rearing differences in day 30 salivary or month 6 hair cortisol values. Therefore subsequent analysis did not factor in rearing or sex. Linear regression [a=0.05] showed that day 30 salivary cortisol does not predict average temperament score, nor does average temperament score predict month 6 hair cortisol. Salivary cortisol levels were also not significantly correlated with hair cortisol levels in the same animals. Whereas previous studies found correlations between cortisol levels and temperament measures, species and age differences in subjects as well as differences in methods for obtaining cortisol could account for our results. However, it seems more likely that basal cortisol levels, short-term or long-term, are not related to temperament during infancy.