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Dev Psychobiol. 2018 Jan;60(1):90-103. doi: 10.1002/dev.21552. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

All bonds are not alike: A psychoendocrine evaluation of infant attachment.

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PRC, INRA, CNRS, IFCE, Université de Tours, Nouzilly, France.


Characteristics of attachment were assessed in peer- and object-reared lambs, and compared to mothered subjects by taking into consideration distress, proximity seeking, and exploration during two separation-reunion tests in both the familiar and a novel environment. Plasma cortisol and oxytocin were assayed as physiological indicators of stress and being comforted during the separation-reunion test. Rewarding properties of the familiar figures were also determined in a conditioned place preference-like paradigm. Between-group analysis revealed the existence of secure attachment with the mother, alteration of secure attachment with the peer and weaker attachment with the object. Weaker attachment was expressed by a lack of distress during separation in the home pen and no preference for the place conditioned with the familiar object. Elevated basal plasma oxytocin levels, but not cortisol, observed in maternally deprived lambs were more likely linked to the absence of a maternal figure rather than social comfort during reunion.


attachment; cortisol; distress; oxytocin; social bond

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