Effects of Social Partners on Pituitary-Adrenal Activity During Novelty Exposure in Adult Female Squirrel Monkeys

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Adult female squirrel monkeys from established social groups were exposed to novel surroundings either while alone or while with an adult female partner. The partner was either familiar and judged to be affiliative with the subject, familiar and not judged to be affiliative with the subject, or unfamiliar. The females' plasma cortisol levels were higher at the end of the 25th hr of exposure than at the end of the first hr when the females were alone or with a familiar partner, but not when they were with an unfamiliar partner. In no instance were cortisol concentrations greater when females were tested alone than when they were tested in the presence of a companion. Behavioral signs of distress were greater during the first as compared to the 25th hr of exposure and showed no influence of the presence of a partner. Contact/proximity between monkeys was greater during the 25th than during the first hour of exposure in the familiar partner judged to be affiliative and in the unfamiliar partner conditions. These results contrast with those of studies investigating the disruption of the mother-infant relationship in squirrel monkeys, and provide further evidence that the pituitary-adrenal system of these animals is not responsive to the disruption of adult social relationships.



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