Abstract # 5835 Event # 17:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2014 01:15 PM-01:30 PM: Session 6 (Henry Oliver)


NEONATAL CAREGIVER-INFANT SOCIAL EXCHANGES AFFECT SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN NURSERY-REARED RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA) IN THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE

E. A. Simpson1,2, A. Paukner2, S. J. Suomi2 and P. F. Ferrari1
1Università di Parma, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Parma 4300, Italy, 2Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, USA
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     Although early mother-infant social exchanges appear important for primate infant social and cognitive development, our goal was to test this experimentally through manipulating nursery-reared macaques’ social interactions with caregivers and following them longitudinally for the first months of life. Infants were randomly assigned to either standard-rearing control (n = 15) or face-group (n = 12), in which human caregivers engaged in face-to-face communicative exchanges using lipsmacking directed at infants in 5-min-long sessions, four times a day, from birth through 28 days. We predicted that infants in the face-group would exhibit stronger social skills than infants in the control group. Consistent with our prediction, only the face-group showed lipsmack imitation at 1 week (increases in lipsmacking from baseline to stimulus; paired-samples t-test, p = .002), and a preference for social compared to non-social videos at 1 month (56% of time looking at social vs. 50% chance; one-sample t-test, p = .030). At 2 months, when tested on working memory, both groups recalled a nonsocial stimulus (>47% anticipatory looks vs. 33% chance; one-sample t-test, ps < .05), but only the face-group recalled the social stimulus (50% anticipatory looks vs. 33% chance; one-sample t-test, p = .001). In summary, early social experience—being held, mutual gaze, and communicative exchanges—may increase social interest and abilities. Acknowledgements: The Division of Intramural Research, NICHD, NICHD P01HD064653 supported this research.