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Author Notes:

Correspondence to: Anne-Pierre S. Goursaud agoursa@emory.edu

The authors are grateful to Amy Henry and Trina Villarreal who assisted in performing the discrimination tests as well as to all members of the Bachevalier laboratory who participated in the surgical procedures.

The authors also wish to thank the Veterinarian and Animal Care teams at both the main station and field station of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Emory University, Atlanta, GA).


Research Funding:

This research was founded by grants from the National Institute for Mental Health (R01MH050268; R03MH076031), the National Center for research Resources to the Yerkes National Research Center (P51 RR00165; YNRC Base Grant; currently supported by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs/OD P51OD11132) and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (NSF IBN 9876754; CBN 069-2005Y).


  • amygdalectomy
  • development
  • filial attachment
  • monkeys
  • mother-infant bond
  • primates
  • relationship
  • Amygdala
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Object Attachment
  • Recognition (Psychology)
  • Social Perception

Mother recognition and preference after neonatal amygdala lesions in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) raised in a semi-naturalistic environment


Journal Title:

Developmental Psychobiology


Volume 56, Number 8


, Pages 1723-1734

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Attachment to the caregiver, typically the biological mother, is crucial to young mammals' socio-emotional development. Although studies in nonprimate species suggest that the amygdala regulates social preference and attachment development, its role in primate filial attachment development has been little investigated and has produced mixed results. This study assessed the effects of neonatal amygdala- (Neo-A, N=16) and sham- (Neo-C, N=12) lesions on mother recognition and discrimination in macaques raised in species-typical social groups. Neonatal amygdalectomy did not affect social discriminative abilities and mother preference at 3 and 6 months of age, strongly suggesting that the amygdala is not involved in the cognitive processes underlying the development of filial attachment at least when the amygdala damage occurred after the third to fourth weeks of age. Nevertheless, as compared to sham-operated controls, amygdalectomized infants initiated physical contact with their mothers less frequently. The findings are discussed in relation to the known contribution of the amygdala to filial attachment in both rodents and humans.

Copyright information:

© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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