Abstract # 18:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 20, 2013 10:00 AM-10:15 AM: Session 1 (San Geronimo Ballroom B) Symposium


THE CAYO SANTIAGO MACAQUES: A FREE-RANGING MODEL FOR THE STUDY OF BEHAVIOR-GENETICS AND HUMAN PSYCHIATRIC DISEASE

L. J. N. Brent and M. L. Platt
Duke University, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, 450 Research Drive, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA
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     Psychiatric and mood-related disorders - such as autism spectrum disorder and affective spectrum disorder - affect millions of people. Despite well-defined diagnostic features, these disorders present wide spectrums of phenotypes. Evidence suggests this variation arises from both genetic predispositions and individual experience, yet the underlying biological mechanisms remain poorly understood. Progress lags due to the lack of an animal model in which natural variation in genetics and individual experience generates heterogeneity in behavior that is qualitatively similar - if not homologous - to that in humans. The Cayo Santiago population of free-ranging rhesus macaques presents an unparalleled opportunity to address this gap: With a large number of animals of known-pedigree living in naturalistic circumstances with minimal human intervention, the Cayo Santiago population is a biologically realistic model of the genetics of social behavior and human disease. To date, our assessment of the Cayo population has revealed evidence that rhesus macaque social behaviors have a heritable, genetic, basis. Links have also been made between grooming and genes involved in serotonergic signalling – a key neuromodulatory pathway. Further genetic studies will illuminate the underlying genetic basis of social temperaments and cognition, while genome sequencing promises to identify new variants linked to social behavior. The future of primate behavior genetics is bright and the free-ranging Cayo Santiago population is uniquely poised to be a leader in this field.