Journal of Undergraduate Research


rhesus macaque monkeys, scar tissue, aggression rates, oxytocin receptor gene


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




This research project originally started out with the purpose of correlating aggression rates in rhesus macaque monkeys with the level and type of oxytocin receptor that that monkey possessed. Blood samples were to be taken, level of scarring and wounds analyzed, and observations done to predict their average level of aggressive activity. Oxytocin has been implicated in a number of pro-attachment behaviors, including bonding with pair-mates and offspring, but has conversely been shown to increase aggressive behaviors toward those who pose a threat to either of the afore mentioned. Because Rhesus macaques are notoriously aggressive, I was interested in seeing if the higher the levels of oxytocin would correlate with higher levels of aggression. However, due to some unforeseen obstacles, mostly the time it takes to gain approval for blood draws, I was not able to start collecting samples until the very end of the internship at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC). Consequently, I was not able to analyze scarring or submit samples yet for genotyping. I slightly changed my project, then, to focus more on the behavioral aspects of aggression, and used the CNPRC’s Bio- Behavioral Assessment (BBA)1 to analyze the changes in aggressive rates from infancy to adulthood. Furthermore, I selected subjects who had engaged in previous aggressive bouts, resulting in the loss of one or more of the following; finger, toe, tail. I hypothesized that the more body parts missing; the more aggressive that animal would be rated during observations. I also predicted that the animals that were most aggressive during behavioral observations would highly correlate with high anxiolytic reactions measured during the BBA process.

Included in

Psychology Commons