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In JoVE (1)
Other Publications (25)
- Folia Primatologica; International Journal of Primatology
- Primates; Journal of Primatology
- Hormones and Behavior
- Developmental Psychobiology
- Primates; Journal of Primatology
- American Journal of Physical Anthropology
- Primates; Journal of Primatology
- General and Comparative Endocrinology
- Physiology & Behavior
- Biological Psychiatry
- General and Comparative Endocrinology
- Hormones and Behavior
- American Journal of Primatology
- Experimental Physiology
- Developmental Psychobiology
- Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
- Archives of Sexual Behavior
- Comparative Medicine
- Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Biological Psychology
- Comparative Medicine
- Brain, Behavior and Evolution
- Comparative Medicine
- American Journal of Primatology
- Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Articles by Massimo Bardi in JoVE
Using a Comparative Species Approach to Investigate the Neurobiology of Paternal Responses
Catherine L. Franssen1, Massimo Bardi2, Kelly G. Lambert1
1Department of Psychology, Randolph-Macon College, 2Department of Psychology, Marshall University
The comparative species approach allows behavioral neuroscientists to explore various neurobiological factors associated with specific behaviors viewed as characteristic of a specific animal model. Taking advantage of naturally occurring differences in behavior between closely related species, this technique doesn’t require invasive techniques to manipulate the expression of the behavior.
Other articles by Massimo Bardi on PubMed
Folia Primatologica; International Journal of Primatology. Jan-Feb, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12065940
Fecal Testosterone Immunoreactivity As a Non-invasive Index of Functional Testosterone Dynamics in Male Japanese Macaques (Macaca Fuscata)
Primates; Journal of Primatology. Jan, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12091745
Validation of a simple method for the extraction and quantification of testosterone (T) from the excreta of male Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) is presented. Radioimmunoassay of paired fecal and serum samples collected from four intact sexually mature males during the breeding season provided profiles that were significantly correlated when samples were offset by approximately 48 hr. Additionally, no significant differences were observed in the pattern of temporal variation of T levels in serum and feces. Two castrated males were injected with radioinert T, and the patterns of excretion were observed by analysis of serial fecal and urine samples. Approximately 48 hr after the steroid was administered, a significant peak in the average fecal T levels was apparent. The injection event was also registered in the urine of both males, although qualitative differences were observed. These data suggest that measures of fecal T provide a reliable and non-invasive means of assessing gonadal function in this species. As the analysis of hormone levels in feces allows for frequent, stress-free sampling with minimal disruption, this method should be preferred in long-term or in situ applications requiring endocrine monitoring.
Endocrine Correlates of Rank, Reproduction, and Female-directed Aggression in Male Japanese Macaques (Macaca Fuscata)
Hormones and Behavior. Aug, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12191651
Fecal testosterone and cortisol levels in six wild male Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), three of high rank and three of low, were analyzed to investigate the hormonal correlates of rank, reproduction, and female-directed aggression. The study encompassed the 6-month mating season, from October 1999 to March 2000, during which time 251 fecal samples and approximately 550 h of behavioral data were collected. Dominant males were not found to differ from subordinate males in overall rates of aggressive or copulatory behavior. Likewise, testosterone excretion, which peaked in the early part of the mating season and declined gradually thereafter, did not differ significantly by rank. High-ranking males, however, were observed to excrete significantly higher levels of cortisol than low-ranking males, suggesting that dominance may carry costs. The two hormones were found to be inversely correlated in the two most dominant males, but independent in all others. Rate of noncontact aggression was significantly correlated with testosterone, while no significant relationships were observed between testosterone and contact aggression nor any aspect of copulatory behavior. These data further support the contention that social subordinance and stress are not inexorably linked, as well as suggest that elevated glucocorticoid concentrations in high-ranking males may reflect increased metabolic costs associated with dominant male reproductive strategy.
Developmental Psychobiology. Dec, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12430160
We assessed the association of maternal style and infant behavior of group-living Japanese macaques during the first year of infant development. We tested the hypothesis that different mothering styles were correlated with the behavioral repertoire of infants at three different developmental stages. We expected that infants of rejecting mothers would show a higher level of enterprise and that infants of protective mothers would be less interested in the external environment. We found evidence that maternal style affects infant behavior during the early developmental phase, but this influence becomes smaller as the infant grows older and approaches complete independence. Maternal protectiveness appears to have long-lasting effects on infant exploration as infants of protective mothers tended to be less attracted by the external environment. On the other hand, mater- nal rejection appears to have long-lasting effects on infant interaction with other group members as more rejected infants tended to initiate a significantly higher number of contacts with other juveniles and adults. These results suggest that both maternal rejection and maternal protectiveness play an important role in the independence of the offspring, in opposite directions. That is, rejection promotes independence whereas protectiveness delays it.
Increase in Tannin Consumption by Sifaka ( Propithecus Verreauxi Verreauxi) Females During the Birth Season: a Case for Self-medication in Prosimians?
Primates; Journal of Primatology. Jan, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12548335
In this study we report preliminary data on the consumption of tannin-rich plants by sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi) living in the Kirindy forest, western Madagascar. Sifakas spent most of their time feeding on only a few plant species. The tannin intake during the period between the pregnancy and birth season was significantly higher in pregnant females or females with lactating infants than in non-reproductive females and males. These periparturient females secured a larger proportion of condensed tannins by short feeding bouts on plants not included in the group's limited preferred food species. The measured increase in tannin intake is puzzling in light of the fact that tannins are commonly known for their protein-binding properties. Since protein demands are highest in pregnant and lactating females, possible medicinal benefits of tannin ingestion are considered. Tannin consumption is associated with an increase in body weight and stimulation of milk secretion. Veterinarians administer tannins as an astringent, anti-hemorrhagic and anti-abortive. Their high potential as an alternative anthelminthic has also recently been recognized. Thus, when viewed as self-medicating behavior, controlled increase in tannin intake could have multiple prophylactic advantages for females during the periparturient period. The high selectivity in their plant choice, and the presence of unusual feeding habits by a particular group of individuals (females with infants) limited in time (birth season), suggests that an increase in tannin ingestion may be a self-medicating behavior with multiple directly adaptive benefits to female reproduction.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Mar, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12567380
As evidence accumulates regarding the influence of hormones and stress-related conditions on maternal behavior, it becomes critical to better understand the relationship between physiological stress and the ability to cope with infants. Eight Japanese macaque females were observed 3 hr per week during the first 12 weeks after parturition; fecal samples were collected twice a week from each mother, starting 4 weeks before parturition and ending 4 weeks after parturition. Time spent in contact, maternal responsiveness, latency of response, and maternal rejection were measured and correlated with peripartum excreted cortisol and estradiol metabolite levels. Two indices of peripartum hormonal status were also tested against behavior: the postpartum stress index, and the postpartum cortisol/prepartum estradiol ratio (F/E). Postpartum cortisol levels showed a positive correlation with maternal rejection. The cortisol/estradiol ratio was positively correlated with rejection and latency of response, and negatively correlated with maternal responsiveness. Prepartum cortisol levels and the postpartum stress index did not correlate with any aspect of maternal behavior. Our findings suggest that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity per se is not enough to predict the quality of interaction between mother and infant. Only when cortisol is high relative to estradiol could it be symptomatic of a possible negative feedback response involving stress, adrenal activity, and the ability of mothers to cope with the additional problems imposed by newborns.
Mother-infant Relationships and Maternal Estrogen Metabolites Changes in Macaques (Macaca Fuscata, M. Mulatta)
Primates; Journal of Primatology. Apr, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12687472
This research assessed mother-infant relationships in rhesus and Japanese macaques living in analogous captive social groups, and monitored changes in the levels of excreted estrogen metabolites during the peripartum period. Each mother-infant pair was focally observed 3 h per week during the first 12 weeks of life of newborns. Fecal samples were collected twice a week from each mother, starting 4 weeks before delivery and ending 4 weeks after delivery. Infant-directed behaviors appeared to be consistently less protective/controlling and more rejecting in rhesus macaques than in Japanese macaques. Estrogen metabolite levels during the perinatal period were, on average, 3-fold higher in Japanese macaques and showed a sharp increase during the last weeks of pregnancy only in the Japanese macaque group. Considering the ecological and behavioral similarities between Japanese and rhesus macaques, the divergence between the two species in the onset and maintenance of maternal behavior was unexpected. This was possibly linked to the difference in the overall body size and life history, and to the striking divergence in estrogen metabolite variation during the peripartum period. Group size, social relationships, and average age of individuals in the two captive groups were not clearly involved in the recorded differences in maternal behavior.
General and Comparative Endocrinology. Oct, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 12957476
The subtle and complex relationships between the sequential maturation of the endocrine systems during pregnancy and parturition, and the hormonal role in activating the central nervous system to express maternal behavior in primates, are far from being completely understood. Recent studies on the association between sex steroids and maternal behavior have yielded conflicting results in this group. Here we use a comparative approach to assess the correlation between changes in the peripartum endocrine profiles and maternal styles in two closely related macaque species, housed in analogous environments. We included in this study the first seven Japanese macaque and seven rhesus macaque mother-infant pairs born during the birth season of 2001 at the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan. We observed each pair 3h/week (six weekly 30-min observation sessions) during the first 12 weeks of lactation. We collected fecal samples twice a week from each mother, starting 4 weeks before parturition and ending 4 weeks after parturition. We tested the hypothesis that neuroendocrine changes during pregnancy and lactation might specifically contribute to the regulation and timing of infant rejection. Despite their biological similarities, we observed a clear difference in maternal style between the two groups concerning rejection rates: rhesus macaque mothers rejected their infants earlier and more frequently throughout the whole 12 weeks of study. On the other hand, protectiveness showed similar patterns and values in the two groups, and maternal warmth was significantly higher in the rhesus group, but it followed a similar pattern over time. We also confirmed an association between maternal rejection and excreted estrogen, but not excreted progesterone, for Japanese macaques. This association was not apparent for the rhesus macaques. This result, coupled with the observation that rhesus mothers are more rejecting than Japanese macaque mothers, tends to support our hypothesis. As a group, rhesus macaques are less inhibited in the rejection of their infants, and this is paralleled by a less marked change in the primacy of estrogen in the last phase of pregnancy. On the contrary, the Japanese group is characterized by higher levels of E(1)C and the E(1)C/PdG ratio. Therefore, according to our hypothesis, their tendency to increase the rejection rate may be suppressed through a feedback loop that enhances maternal motivation and results in a more tolerant outcome toward the infant.
Physiology & Behavior. Nov, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 14637215
The present investigation aims to assess the changes in both social interaction and sex steroids excreted in feces of group-living Japanese macaques and rhesus monkeys. By comparing profiles of estrone conjugates (E1C) and pregnanediol-glucuronide (PdG) with the behavioral propensities of two closely related species living in similar environments, we could test the hypothesis that the social behavior of pregnant females shows significant hormonally mediated changes during the late prepartum and early postpartum period. We found a general tendency to withdraw from social life across pregnancy in both species. These behavioral changes were paralleled by endocrine profiles showing a slight prepartum increase in E1C during the last week in the rhesus group, whereas the increase was more marked and continuous in the Japanese macaque group. PdG increased slightly in rhesus macaques, whereas in Japanese macaques the fluctuations were not significant. Postpartum, both hormones dropped to low levels in both species, with no significant variation therein. Consequent to these changes, the E1C/PdG ratio increased significantly in late pregnancy only in the Japanese macaque group. Overall, these results show significant differences in the social behavior and endocrine profiles of two closely related species, thus complementing previous findings and indicating species-specific characteristics of the association between changes in affiliative behaviors and hormonal fluctuations. In particular, the shift between grooming performed and self-grooming, which showed the closest association with variations in the E1C/PdG ratio, could represent a reliable indicator of the change in the internal status of pregnant females, and is probably functional to infant survival.
Biological Psychiatry. Apr, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15039001
Human mothers display a wide range of parenting skills, and although we have gathered a large body of evidence on a variety of factors affecting maternal behavior, we still know relatively little about the physiologic correlates of variation in parental behavior in primates.
General and Comparative Endocrinology. May, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15094337
Steroid hormones are important regulators of a wide variety of reproductive and behavioral functions. We investigated the ability to track sex steroids and glucocorticoids in urine samples collected noninvasively from pre- and postpartum female baboons. Paired plasma and urine samples were collected every 2 weeks prior to and following birth in 10 females. Changes in concentrations of plasma steroids (estradiol, progesterone, and cortisol) were reflected in changes in urinary metabolite excretion (estrone conjugates, pregnanediol conjugates, and cortisol; r's>0.36, p's<0.001). A low correlation between prepartum plasma and urinary cortisol may reflect late-gestational changes in the production and/or metabolism of glucocorticoids. Steroid excretion profiles in a large sample of females giving birth and caring for healthy infants (n = 108) were compared with profiles obtained from females with poor maternal-fetal outcomes (late-term stillbirth, n = 14) and from females with significant postpartum problems with maternal care (n = 20). Mothers giving birth to stillborn infants had lower prepartum levels of urinary estrone conjugates and cortisol, suggesting reduced placental steroidogenesis. Mothers with postpartum behavioral difficulties had higher concentrations of prepartum estrone excretion, lower cortisol excretion, and elevated E/P ratios throughout the peripartum period. Noninvasive sample collection and enzyme immunoassay, therefore, have predictive utility regarding circulating steroid concentrations and can identify important endocrine correlates of physiological and behavioral abnormalities in baboons.
Hormonal Correlates of Changes in Interest in Unrelated Infants Across the Peripartum Period in Female Baboons (Papio Hamadryas Anubis Sp.)
Hormones and Behavior. Dec, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15555493
In past research on human and nonhuman primates, maternal responsiveness and behavior has been thought of as an experiential, cognitive mechanism; however, recent findings have shown that maternal motivation and behavior may not be entirely divorced from the endocrine system. To investigate the relationship between interest in infants and the hormonal changes related to pregnancy, we examined the nature of social interactions across parturition between a large sample (n = 133) of adult female baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis sp.) and unrelated infants. Prepartum data were collected during ten 30-min focal observations for each subject. Each mother-infant pair was then observed through the infant's first 8 weeks of life. A total of 2325 h of observation was recorded. Urine was collected on 65 subjects, starting 5 weeks before the expected date of parturition and ending 4 weeks after parturition. Evidence for a connection between endocrine function and responsiveness toward infants was found. Affiliative behaviors during the prepartum period were positively correlated to the estrogen/cortisol ratio and high dominance rank. In the postpartum period, affiliative behaviors were positively correlated with prepartum progesterone and dominance rank, and negatively correlated with postpartum cortisol levels. Finally, a positive correlation was recorded during the postpartum period between prepartum progesterone and aggression, and a negative correlation between postpartum cortisol and aggression and submission. Our data suggest that the endocrine changes that may help regulate maternal care of offspring also influence the way in which pre- and postpartum female baboons interact with unrelated infants in their social group.
American Journal of Primatology. Jul, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 16015661
The ability to mount a successful response to threats is critical for an organism's survival. A key element of the stress response is its nonspecificity toward the stress source, with similar endocrine and behavioral changes expected under a variety of stressors. In this project we utilized an experimental design that accounts for multiple sources of variation to further understand the nature of stress responsivity and its relationship to the early rearing environment. A sample of baboons (n=73) was observed during the early phase of life in their social group, and then tested as juveniles in a challenging situation. Maternal cortisol levels were measured during the peripartum period. The challenging situation (individuals were isolated for a few minutes in a single cage) was designed to be a moderate source of psychological stress. Patterns in individual differences during the stress test were "mapped" by means of multidimensional scaling (MDS). After the observation was made, the subject was sedated and a blood sample was taken to measure cortisol levels. Our results indicate that when juvenile baboons are confronted with a source of psychological stress, they show a multidimensional behavioral response, probably mediated by the activation and synergic interaction among different neurohormonal systems that, ultimately, act on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Different components of the multidimensional, or nonspecific, behavioral response are associated with the quality and quantity of interactions with their mothers during early life. Juveniles whose mothers displayed higher levels of positive interaction were characterized by vigilant but less active reactions to the stress test, whereas juveniles of mothers that displayed high levels of stress-related behaviors had higher cortisol and locomotion levels.
Regulation of Sexual Behaviour in Male Macaques by Sex Steroid Modulation of the Serotonergic System
Experimental Physiology. Mar, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16364983
The view that androgen action is the primary impetus underlying male-typical behaviour has been irrevocably altered by the profound perturbations in social and sexual behaviour observed in recent models of oestrogen insufficiency in male mice. Evidence is also accumulating for an involvement of oestrogens in the modulation of neural systems that are thought to play important roles in male reproductive functioning. Specifically, the serotonergic system is implicated in diverse autonomic functions, most or all of which are sensitive to oestradiol as well. Although their interaction domains have yet to be examined in male primates, roles have been established for both oestrogen and serotonin in the regulation of male sexual behaviour. We used a blinded, sham-treated and self-controlled, randomized, multitreatment cross-over design to test the hypothesis that male sexual behaviour is regulated by oestrogen modulation of the serotonergic system in intact male Japanese macaques. Regression analysis revealed that oestradiol and whole blood tryptophan, but not testosterone or 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone, had additive, independent effects on male potentia over a range of hormone concentrations, whereas androgens were confirmed to be the primary determinants of sexual motivation. We suggest that modulation of the serotonergic system by 'female hormones' may be fundamental to the regulation of male mating success in higher primates. This might also explain, at least in part, why significant correlations between steroid hormones and male copulatory behaviour have traditionally proven so elusive in this order, thereby warranting a re-evaluation of the current notion that male sexual behaviour has been emancipated from activational hormonal control in higher primates.
Developmental Psychobiology. Jan, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16381034
The simultaneous effects of naturally occurring individual differences in maternal care and maternal peripartum stress on infant development have been sparsely reported in nonhuman primates. In this work, we used a comparative approach to assess how changes in peripartum maternal excreted cortisol levels and the quality of mother-infant interactions correlate with infant behavioral development in group-living rhesus and Japanese macaques. We tested the hypothesis that peripartum maternal stress was associated with infant behavioral characteristics during development. Due to the difference in mothering style between the two species, we provided separated analyses for two groups. A sample of mother-infant pairs (Japanese macaques, N = 14; rhesus macaques, N = 10) was observed during the first 3 months of the infant's life. Follow-up observations (at 5, 7, and 9 months of age) were collected for the infants. Maternal cortisol levels were measured during the peripartum period. We found preliminary evidence that maternal peripartum stress and differences in key components of maternal behavior are associated with infant behavior throughout the developmental phase. We also provided a working hypothesis regarding maternal behavior and maternal stress as factors playing unique roles in different components of infant behavioral development.
Explorations of Coping Strategies, Learned Persistence, and Resilience in Long-Evans Rats: Innate Versus Acquired Characteristics
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Dec, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 17347369
In the current investigation, predispositions for coping styles (i.e., passive, flexible, and active) were determined in juvenile male rats. In subsequent behavioral tests, flexible copers exhibited more active responses. In another study, animals were exposed to chronic stress and flexible coping rats had lower levels of corticosteroids. Focusing on the acquired nature of coping strategies, rats receiving extensive training in a task requiring them to dig for food rewards (i.e., effort-based rewards) persisted longer in a challenging task than control animals. Thus, the results suggest that both predisposed coping strategies and acquired behavioral experience contribute to resilience in challenging situations.
Archives of Sexual Behavior. Feb, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18074214
Maternal behavior is multidimensional, encompassing many facets beyond the direct care of the young. Formerly unfamiliar activities are required of the mother. These include behaviors such as retrieving, grouping, crouching-over, and licking young, and protecting them against predators, together with enhancements in other behaviors, such as nest building, foraging, and aggression (inter/intra-species, predatory, etc.). When caring for young, the mother must strike a seemingly lose-lose bargain: leave the relative safety of the nest and her helpless offspring to forage for food and resources where predators await both mother and her vulnerable young, or remain entrenched and safe, thereby ensuring a slow and inexorable fate. Two predictions thus arise from this maternal cost-benefit ratio: first, there may be enhancements in behaviors on which the female relies, for example, predation and spatial ability, used for acquiring food and resources and for navigating her environment. Second, there may be reductions in the fear and anxiety inherent to the decision to leave the nest and to forage in an unforgiving environment where encounters with predators or reluctant/resistant prey await. There is overwhelming support for both hypotheses, with improvements in learning and memory accompanied by a diminution in stress responses and anxiety. The current review will examine the background for the phenomenon that is the maternal brain, and recent relevant data. In sum, the data indicate a remarkable set of changes that take place in the maternal (and, to a lesser extent, the paternal), brain, arguably, for the natural, simple but singular experience of reproduction.
Comparative Medicine. Oct, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19887027
The present work examines the relationship between reproductive experience (comprising breeding, parturition, and lactation) and the behavioral and hormonal processes of fear and stress in the female laboratory rat. Previous research has indicated that reproductive experience functions to decrease the female's stress response in potentially harmful environments, thereby providing her with numerous survival benefits, including decreased fearfulness, increased aggression, and refined hunting skills. This study was designed to determine how nulliparous (no reproductive experience), primiparous (1 reproductive experience) and multiparous (at least 2 reproductive experiences) rats respond to a Pavlovian paradigm of learned fear, involving the pairing of a neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus) with an aversive stimulus (unconditioned stimulus). We report evidence that reproductive experience is linked with fear-response and anxiety-like behaviors. Our findings indicate that reproductive experience has an additive effect: primiparous mothers showed a different response to the paradigm of conditioned fear not only compared with those of nulliparous rats as well as multiparous mothers. Assessing the complex interconnections among the behavioral and physiologic measures recorded in this study, multidimensional scaling confirmed a clear separation among the 3 groups of rats in terms of the behavioral and physiologic responses to the experimental paradigm, supporting the conclusion that reproductive experience influences the maternal mind.
Neurobiological Constituents of Active, Passive, and Variable Coping Strategies in Rats: Integration of Regional Brain Neuropeptide Y Levels and Cardiovascular Responses
Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Mar, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20214438
Effective coping strategies build resilience against stress-induced pathology. In the current study, young male rats were categorized as active, passive, or variable copers by observing their responses to being gently restrained on their backs (i.e., the back-test). The rats were subsequently exposed to chronic unpredictable stress, which included several ethologically relevant stressors such as predator odors and calls, for approximately three weeks. During this time, the variable copers, defined as rats that demonstrated a variable as opposed to a rigid response to stress, exhibited more seemingly adaptive responsiveness in three successive forced swim tests than the more consistently responding passive and active copers. This behavioral flexibility was accompanied by increased neuropeptide Y-immunoreactivity in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and the amygdala and increased fos-immunoreactivity in the BNST. Additionally, the alterations in fecal corticosteroid levels and cardiovascular measures (systolic blood pressure and tail blood volume) between baseline and stress conditions differed according to coping strategy. Factor analysis indicates that variable copers were characterized by a distinct cardiovascular and neural response to the stress exposure. These results suggest that this animal coping model may be useful in discerning the adaptive nature of particular response strategies in the face of environmental exigencies.
Biological Psychology. Sep, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20562010
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has been correlated with lower susceptibility to anxiety and mood disturbance. Since coping styles have been shown to be a critical component of academic achievement, we aimed to assess the relationship between DHEA and coping mechanisms in college students. Participants were recruited and tested twice, one week apart. Cardiovascular measurements and saliva samples were taken for each participant. The behavioral task consisted of a set of anagrams of increasing difficulty (possible to impossible). American College Testing (ACT) scores, number of college courses failed and dropped along with current grade point average (GPA) were recorded. Results indicated that successfully coping with challenging tasks is a function of behavioral flexibility and physiological neuroprotection. When presented with challenging tasks, individuals who vary their behavioral response to fit the task's demands have the lowest probability of failing the task. The same individuals also have higher levels of resiliency hormones, demonstrated by a lower ratio of cortisol versus DHEA levels.
Fecal Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Immunoreactivity As a Noninvasive Index of Circulating DHEA Activity in Young Male Laboratory Rats
Comparative Medicine. Dec, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 21262132
Evidence suggests that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) plays a key role in stress and coping responses. Fecal sampling permits assessment of hormone-behavior interactions reliably and effectively, but no previous study has compared circadian- or stress-dependent alterations between serum DHEA and its fecal metabolites. In the current study, young (28 d of age) male rats were assigned to either an experimental (n = 6) or control (n = 6) group. Rats in the experimental group were exposed to a forced swim test to assess their behavioral and physiologic response to an environmental stressor; blood samples were drawn before the test (baseline), immediately after the test, and at 2 later time points. Only fecal samples were collected from control animals. Fecal DHEA and corticosterone metabolites were monitored in all animals for 24 h. DHEA metabolites in control rats exhibited significant diurnal variation, showing a similar temporal pattern as that of corticosterone metabolites. In addition, fecal and serum DHEA levels were highly correlated. Significant peaks in both DHEA and corticosterone metabolite levels were detected. These data suggest that measures of fecal DHEA can provide a complementary, noninvasive method of assessing adrenal gland function in rats.
Characteristic Neurobiological Patterns Differentiate Paternal Responsiveness in Two Peromyscus Species
Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21546770
Rodent paternal models provide unique opportunities to investigate the emergence of affiliative social behavior in mammals. Using biparental and uniparental Peromyscus species (californicus and maniculatus, respectively) we assessed paternal responsiveness by exposing males to biological offspring, unrelated conspecific pups, or familiar brothers following a 24-hour separation. The putative paternal circuit we investigated included brain areas involved in fear/anxiety [cingulate cortex (Cg), medial amygdala (MeA), paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN), and lateral septum (LS)], parental motivation [medial preoptic area (MPOA)], learning/behavioral plasticity (hippocampus), olfaction [pyriform cortex (PC)], and social rewards (nucleus accumbens). Paternal experience in californicus males reduced fos immunoreactivity (ir) in several fear/anxiety areas; additionally, all californicus groups exhibited decreased fos-ir in the PC. Enhanced arginine vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT)-ir cell bodies and fibers, as well as increased neuronal restructuring in the hippocampus, were also observed in californicus mice. Multidimensional scaling analyses revealed distinct brain activation profiles differentiating californicus biological fathers, pup-exposed virgins, and pup-naïve virgins. Specifically, associations among MPOA fos, CA1 fos, dentate gyrus GFAP, CA2 nestin-, and PVN OT-ir characterized biological fathers; LS fos-, Cg fos-, and AVP-ir characterized pup-exposed virgins, and PC-, PVN-, and MeA fos-ir characterized pup-naïve virgins. Thus, whereas fear/anxiety areas characterized pup-naïve males, neurobiological factors involved in more diverse functions such as learning, motivation, and nurturing responses characterized fatherhood in biparental californicus mice. Less distinct paternal-dependent activation patterns were observed in uniparental maniculatus mice. These data suggest that dual neurobiological circuits, leading to the inhibition of social-dependent anxiety as well as the activation of affiliative responses, characterize the transition from nonpaternal to paternal status in californicus mice.
Comparative Medicine. Feb, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21819678
Paternal behavior greatly affects the survival, social development, and cognitive development of infants. Nevertheless, little research has been done to assess how paternal experience modifies the behavioral characteristics of fathers, including fear and stress responses to a novel environment. We investigated long-term behavioral and physiologic effects of parental experience in mice (Peromyscus californicus) and how this response activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (as measured by corticosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA] levels) and interacts with anxiety-related behaviors. Three groups of adult males were tested--fathers exposed to pups, virgins exposed to pups, and virgins never exposed to pups--in 2 environments designed to elicit anxiety response: an open field with a novel object placed in the center and a closed cage containing a sample of a component of fox feces. Behavioral responses were measured by using traditional methods (duration and frequency) and behavioral-chain sequences. Results indicated that paternal experience significantly modifies a male mouse's behavioral and physiologic responses to stress-provoking stimuli. Compared with inexperienced male mice, experienced male mice had a significant decrease in the occurrence of incomplete behavioral chains during the exposure to the novel object, an index of reduced stress. Further, even moderate pup exposure induced behavioral modifications in virgin male mice. These behavioral responses were correlated with changes in corticosterone and DHEA levels. Together, these data provide evidence that interactions between male mice and offspring may have mutually beneficial long-term behavioral and physiologic effects.
American Journal of Primatology. Jan, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 21969111
Despite baboons' widespread distribution across Africa, geophagy among all subspecies has been poorly documented. We used video camera traps and soil analyses to investigate geophagy in chacma baboons (Papio cynocephalus ursinus) inhabiting the Western Cape of South Africa. During an 18-month study, from August 2009 to January 2011, we continually monitored the largest and most frequently visited geophagy sites with camera traps for 545 days and captured soil consumption at one or more sites on 266 of those days (49%). In 3,500 baboon visits to geophagy sites, video camera traps captured 58.6 hr of geophagy. From these data, we evaluated site preference based on time spent consuming soil among these four geophagy sites. One hundred and seventy days of soil consumption data from the most frequently visited geophagy site allowed us to look for demographic trends in geophagy. Selected consumed soils from geophagy sites were analyzed for mineral, physical, and chemical properties. The baboons spent more time consuming white alkaline soils with high percentages of clay and fine silt, which contained higher concentrations of sodium than non-white acidic soils that contained higher concentrations of iron. Our data indicate that pregnant chacma baboons spent more time consuming soil at monitored geophagy sites than baboons of any other age class, sex, or reproductive state. Based on analytical results, the soils consumed would be effective at alleviating gastrointestinal distress and possibly supplementing minerals for all age/sex classes, but potentially for different age/sex requirements.
Behavioral Training and Predisposed Coping Strategies Interact to Influence Resilience in Male Long-Evans Rats: Implications for Depression
Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Jan, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22257065
Effective coping strategies and adaptive behavioral training build resilience against stress-induced pathology. Both predisposed and acquired coping strategies were investigated in rats to determine their impact on stress responsiveness and emotional resilience. Male Long-Evans rats were assigned to one of the three coping groups: passive, active, or variable copers. Rats were then randomly assigned to either an effort-based reward (EBR) contingent training group or a non-contingent training group. Following EBR training, rats were tested in appetitive and stressful challenge tasks. Physiological responses included changes in fecal corticosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) metabolites as well as neuropeptide Y (NPY)-immunoreactivity in the hippocampus and amygdala. Regardless of a rat's predisposed coping strategy, EBR rats persisted longer than non-contingent rats in the appetitive problem-solving task. Furthermore, training and coping styles interacted to yield the seemingly most adaptive DHEA/corticosterone ratios in the EBR-trained variable copers. Regardless of training group, variable copers exhibited increased NPY-immunoreactivity in the CA1 region.