Abstract # 3194 Poster # 94:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Salon G (Sixth Floor)) Poster Presentation


MOTHER-INFANT SEPARATION IS ASSOCIATED WITH LATER PATHOLOGICAL BEHAVIORS

M. B. Jensen1, A. C. Chaffin1, C. S. Barr2, M. L. Schwandt2, S. J. Suomi2 and J. D. Higley1
1Brigham Young University, Department of Psychology, Provo, UT, USA, 2National Institutes of Health, NICHD and NIAAA
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     Tens of thousands of children are separated from a parent due to military deployment each year. To assess the effects of early separation, this study examined behavior in 91 mother-reared, group-housed infant rhesus macaques (macaca mulatta). Behavior was assessed using a standardized scoring system designed to measure sociality, aggression, and anxiety. Ten 5-minute behavior coding sessions were recorded two weeks before and again two weeks after separation. We calculated the difference between the average pre-separation and post-separation behaviors and these data were used to predict behavior during an intruder paradigm conducted 1 to 9 years later, which allowed a long-term assessment of separation on subsequent behavior. To perform the analyses, the middle 50% of the monkeys were removed from the analysis, leaving the monkeys most affected by the separation. Regression was used to perform all analyses. Results: Changes in behavior following separation predicted later aggression, anxiety, impulsivity, sociality and proximity to the intruder during the intruder paradigm, indicating that behaviors affected by separation were predictive behaviors considered to represent impulsivity, aggression, sociality, and anxiety. Our analyses yielded modest r-values ranging from .294 to .491 (p-values were between .001 and .048). To the extent that our findings generalize to humans, this study suggests that some military children that undergo separation from parents may be at risk for later anxiety, aggression or impulsive behaviors, and social impairments.