Studies in Primate Pair-bonding and Parenting
Titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) are a monogamous New World monkey. They display the traits of social monogamy, including a preference for a familiar partner and distress upon separation. In the wild, titi monkey pair-mates spend most of their time within sight of each other and a lot of it in physical contact with their tails twined.
In our lab we use non-invasive imaging to examine the neurobiology of social bonding in this species. We especially take a developmental approach to examining both maturational changes in social bonding and brain activity as well as situational changes determined by the presence or absence of an attachment figure.
We are also examining long-term effects of exposure to intranasal oxytocin, which is already being used in humans as a treatment for autism spectrum disorders.
Figure 1. Titi monkey PET image at the level of the hippocampus.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Institutes of Health, grant NICHD HD092055 to Karen Bales and grant NIH OD011107 to the California National Primate Research Center. This work is also supported by the Good Nature Institute to Karen Bales.