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Dev Psychobiol. 2011 Sep;53(6):549-63. doi: 10.1002/dev.20594.

Similarity in temperament between mother and offspring rhesus monkeys: sex differences and the role of monoamine oxidase-a and serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism genotypes.

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California National Primate Research Center, Davis, California, USA.


Temperament is usually considered biologically based and largely inherited, however, the environment can shape the development of temperament. Allelic variation may confer differential sensitivity to early environment resulting in variations in temperament. Here we explore the relationship between measures of temperament in mothers and their first-born offspring and the role of genetic sensitivity in establishing the strength of these associations. Temperament ratings were conducted on 3- to 4-month-old rhesus monkeys after a 25-hr biobehavioral assessment. Factor analysis revealed a four-factor structure of temperament. Females assessed as infants have reproduced and their offspring have also been evaluated through the standardized testing paradigm. Canonical correlation analysis revealed statistically significant associations between factor scores of mothers and sons, but not mothers and daughters. Further, offspring possessing the high activity, "low risk," alleles of the rhMAOA-LPR or rh5-HTTLPR showed statistically significant canonical correlations, whereas those possessing other alleles did not, suggesting differential genetic sensitivity to the normative early experience of maternal temperament.

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