Behavioral and hormonal responses to social disruption and infant stimuli in female rhesus monkeys

Carol A. Gonzalez, Megan R. Gunnar, Seymour Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


(1) Rhesus monkey mothers housed with their infants and with nonmothers (females without infants) displayed significant elevations in plasma cortisol at 3 hr after capture from their social group and rehousing in a novel isolated room. (2) Mothers showed a more rapid return to basal levels than nonmothers during a week-long adaptation period. (3) When mothers received auditory cues from their social groups, they showed only moderate initial elevations of cortisol in response to capture. (4) Infants housed with their mothers showed relatively low levels of cortisol throughout the period of adaptation to capture and rehousing. (5) Mothers separated for 2 wks from their infants showed a specificity of behavioral and pituitary-adrenal responses when their own infants and not other separated infants were subsequently presented. (6) Mothers housed with their own infants (nonseparated mothers) responded to the sight of any distressed infant upon presentation. (7) Nonmothers did not exhibit any change in cortisol levels when exposed to a separated infant. (8) Cortisol levels and behavior (except whoo calls) of separated infants did not discriminate the presence of their mothers when the infants were presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
comments. This research was supported by Postdoctoral Training Grant MH-15147 from NIMH Io Carol A. Gonzalez and Megan R. Gunnar; MH-23645 from NIMH, HD-02881 from NICHD, and Research Scientist Award MH-19936 from NIMH to Seymour Levine.


  • Pituitary
  • adrenal
  • capture
  • cortisol
  • maternal status
  • presentation
  • rhesus females


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