Abstract # 64:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 04:30 PM-04:45 PM: Session 13 (Meeting Room 408) Oral Presentation


E. L. Kinnally
NYSPI, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA

Early life stress reorganizes the brain and behavior of the developing infant, often with adverse consequences. There is no more potent stressor than poor parental care: it is an experience common to most mammals, and its adverse effects have been observed across species. The effects of parental care can be particularly difficult to abolish, as levels of care tend to be perpetuated across generations. We investigated whether 20 female rhesus macaques perpetuated the care they received as infants toward their own offspring. Mother-infant pairs were observed in large outdoor social groups at the California National Primate Research Center using a transactional coding scheme. During observations, each interaction between mother and infant was characterized by recording an “initiation” and “response” theme, and whether the mother or infant was the initiator. Four years later, females were observed for maternal behavior toward their own offspring. Rates of maternal themes characterized as “aggressive” were tabulated. Females’ maternal aggressiveness was positively associated with the level of aggression she had received from her own mother as an infant (Pearson’s correlation; r = .453, p = .045). These results suggest that even low levels of maternal aggression may be transmitted to subsequent generations.