Abstract # 144:

Scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013 03:35 PM-03:50 PM: Session 20 (San Geronimo Ballroom C) Oral Presentation


THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEVERAL ASPECTS OF MATERNAL CARE AND EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY IN INFANT RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA)

K. McCormack1,2, B. Howell2,3, D. B. Guzman2, K. Pears4, H. Kim4, J. Meyer5, M. R. Gunnar6 and M. M. Sanchez2,3
1Spelman College, 350 Spelman Lane, Box 209, Atlanta, GA 30314, USA, 2Yerkes National Primate Center, Emory University, 3Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, 4Oregon Social Learning Center, 5Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, 6Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
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     One of the strongest predictors of healthy child development is the quality of maternal care. This study investigated the relationship between several aspects of maternal care on infant development in rhesus mother-infant pairs living in social groups at the Yerkes Primate Center. All infants were cross-fostered at birth to eliminate confounding effects of genetics, and randomly assigned to either caring mothers (n=20) or mothers that maltreated their infants (n=20). Mother-infant behavior was collected from focal observations across the first 6 months. Following observations, mothers were rated on the degree to which they were irritable, responsive, permissive, and protective of their infants. We also measured cortisol accumulation in infant hair from 0-6 months, as well as brain white matter tracts development via diffusion tensor imaging. Compared to controls, maltreated infants were more emotionally reactive, as demonstrated by higher rates of screams and tantrums (p<.05), and they showed signs of chronic early stress, as evidenced by higher levels of hair cortisol (p<.05). Preliminary analyses suggest that maltreated infants also had lower structural integrity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex white matter (p=.01). In addition to maltreatment, maternal responsiveness, permissiveness, protectiveness and irritability ratings were strong predictors of infant reactivity, stress physiology and brain connectivity, suggesting that more global aspects of maternal care are also affected in maltreating mothers and are good predictors of infant development.