Pervasive alterations of emotional and neuroendocrine responses to an acute stressor after neonatal amygdala lesions in rhesus monkeys

Jessica Raper, Mark Wilson, Mar Sanchez, Christopher J. Machado, Jocelyne Bachevalier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


The current study examined the long-term effects of neonatal amygdala lesions on emotional and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity to an acute stressor in rhesus monkeys. Rhesus monkeys received either bilateral MRI-guided ibotenic acid amygdala (Neo-Aibo; n=. 6) or sham (Neo-C; n=. 7) lesions between 7 and 14 days of age. Emotional reactivity was assessed using the Human Intruder paradigm at 2 months, 4.5 months, and 6-8 years of age, whereas stress neuroendocrine response was only assessed in adulthood (6-8 years). The modulation of defensive and emotional behaviors based on the gaze direction of the intruder emerged between 2 and 4 months of age in surrogate-peer reared sham-operated infant monkeys, as already shown for mother-reared infants. Although neonatal amygdala lesions did not impair the ability to exhibit defensive and emotional behaviors, it altered the modulation of these responses based on the intruder's gaze direction. The changes in emotional reactivity after neonatal amygdala lesions emerged in infancy and persisted throughout adulthood when they were associated with a reduction of basal cortisol levels and a blunted cortisol response to the stressor. These changes are reminiscent of those found after adult-onset amygdala lesions, demonstrating little functional compensation following early amygdala damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1035
Number of pages15
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013



  • Amygdala
  • Development
  • Emotion
  • HPA-axis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems

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