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Differences in titi monkey (Callicebus cupreus) social bonds affect arousal, affiliation, and response to reward.


Titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) are a monogamous, New World primate. Adult pair-mates form a bidirectional social bond and offspring form a selective unidirectional bond to their father. Some of the neurobiology involved in social bonds and maternal behavior is similar to the neural circuitry involved in nonsocial reward. Due to these overlapping mechanisms, social states may affect responses to external rewarding stimuli. We sought to determine whether having a social attachment, and/or being in the presence of that attachment figure, can affect an individual's response to a rewarding stimulus. In addition, we compared affiliative bonds between pair-mates to those between offspring and fathers. Eighteen adult male titi monkeys were either living alone (Lone), with a female pair-mate (Paired), or with the natal group (Natal; N = 6/condition). Each individual went through eight 30-min preference tests for a sweet substance, Tang. For Paired and Natal males, half of the test sessions were with their attachment figure and half were alone. Lone males were always tested alone. Preference scores for Tang, time spent drinking, affiliative, and arousal behaviors were measured. Paired and Natal males emitted significantly more isolation peeps and locomoted more when tested alone compared to when tested with their attachment figure, and paired males engaged in more affiliative behavior than Natal males. Lone males engaged in significantly more behaviors indicative of behavioral arousal such as locomotion and piloerection compared to Paired and Natal males. Finally, Paired males drank significantly more Tang and had a significantly greater preference for Tang compared to Lone and Natal males. These results indicate that offspring undergo a behavioral separation response upon separation from their father that persists into adulthood, Lone males are more behaviorally reactive, and that living with an attachment figure and the type of attachment relationship result in different responses to a rewarding sweet stimulus.

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