New approaches to quantify social development in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta): Integrating eye tracking with traditional assessments of social behavior

Amy M. Ryan, Takeshi Murai, Allison R. Lau, Casey E. Hogrefe, A. Kimberley McAllister, Cameron S. Carter, Melissa D. Bauman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The nonhuman primate provides a sophisticated animal model system both to explore neurobiological mechanisms underlying complex behaviors and to facilitate preclinical research for neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disease. A better understanding of evolutionarily conserved behaviors and brain processes between humans and nonhuman primates will be needed to successfully apply recently released NIMH guidelines (NOT-MH-19-053) for conducting rigorous nonhuman primate neurobehavioral research. Here, we explore the relationship between two measures of social behavior that can be used in both humans and nonhuman primates—traditional observations of social interactions with conspecifics and eye gaze detection in response to social stimuli. Infant male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) serving as controls (N = 14) for an ongoing study were observed in their social rearing groups and participated in a noninvasive, longitudinal eye-tracking study. We found significant positive relationships between time spent viewing eyes of faces in an eye tracker and number of initiations made for social interactions with peers that is consistent with similar observations in human populations. Although future studies are needed to determine if this relationship represents species-typical social developmental processes, these preliminary results provide a novel framework to explore the relationship between social interactions and social attention in nonhuman primate models for neurobehavioral development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • animal models
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • eye track ing
  • rhesus macaque
  • social development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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