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Int J Dev Neurosci. 1999 Jun;17(3):265-74.

Social separation in infant Cebus apella: patterns of behavioral and cortisol response.

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  • 1Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, NICHD, NIH Animal Center, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA.


34 infant tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) were separated from their social groups for a 2-hour period and videotaped in isolation at the ages of 6 months and 1 year. Baseline and 2-hour blood samples were measured for levels of serum cortisol. Compared to homecage baseline levels, passivity, locomotion and vocalizations increased during separation, while self-directed behavior and environmental exploration decreased. Both behavioral and cortisol responses to separation showed individual stability over the 6 month period, although both responses were somewhat attenuated at the later age. There was little correlation between cortisol and behavior during separations. Females vocalized more than did males during separations and showed greater cortisol increases at 6 months of age. The pattern of behavioral response seen in the 2 hours following separation appeared to be more passive than the typical 'protest' response described in many nonhuman primates, and may reflect either the physical circumstances of the separation or a characteristic of species with relaxed social bonds and considerable allomothering available to infants.

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