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Neuropsychopharmacology. 1989 Sep;2(3):175-89.

A longitudinal study of the effect of different social rearing conditions on cerebrospinal fluid norepinephrine and biogenic amine metabolites in rhesus monkeys.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Psychiatric Research Institute, Madison.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether disruption of early social attachment alters the activity of brain biogenic amine systems in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Male rhesus monkey infants were deprived of maternal interaction, peer interaction, or both, during the first 22 months of life. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was collected under rigorously controlled conditions approximately every month and assayed for levels of norepinephrine (NE), its major metabolite, and the metabolites of dopamine and serotonin. Mother-Deprived infants had lower levels of CSF NE than Mother-Reared infants. Mother-Deprived infants also failed to develop the same pattern of intercorrelations between compounds and month-to-month stability in levels of neurotransmitter and metabolites in CSF as the Mother-Reared infants. Finally, there were changes in CSF NE levels associated with social separation and social group formation. The brain NE system appears to be sensitive to changes in the social environment. Its level of activity, as reflected in levels of NE in CSF, appears to depend on both the prevailing social environment and the prior rearing environment.

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