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Extinction deficits in male rhesus macaques with a history of self-injurious behavior



Extinction deficits in male rhesus macaques with a history of self-injurious behavior



American Journal of Primatology 63(2): 41-48



Self-injurious behavior (SIB) occurs in both human and nonhuman primate populations. Despite the potential for harm, SIB may persist in part because of an inability to inhibit behavior that results in wounding. A lever-pressing task was used to test the prediction that monkeys with SIB would show greater persistence in lever-pressing on extinction trials than monkeys without the disorder. The subjects were 15 individually-housed adult male rhesus macaques, 10 of which (the SIB group) had a veterinary record of self-inflicted wounding. All of the monkeys were trained to lever-press for food rewards to a criterion of 400 total responses. The test procedures consisted of five daily 30-min sessions divided into six 5-min intervals. On day 1, the subjects received continuous reinforcement. On days 2-4, testing consisted of alternating reinforced/unreinforced 5-min intervals, beginning with reinforcement. Reinforced intervals were cued with a buzzer. On day 5, the subjects received no reinforcement. The number of lever-presses and behavioral responses were recorded during each session. Saliva samples were collected for cortisol measurement before and after test sessions on days 1, 2, and 5. As predicted, monkeys with SIB lever-pressed more than controls during extinction intervals on days 2-4. There was no difference on day 1 or day 5. The frequency of scratching, yawning, and abnormal behavior increased when reinforcement was intermittent (days 2-4) or absent (day 5). Cortisol levels were highest with continuous reinforcement (day 1), and may reflect differential levels of food intake rather than stress. The presence of extinction deficits suggests that SIB may persist in some monkeys because they lack the ability to regulate the intensity of their biting behavior.

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Accession: 012078494

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15195326

DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20037


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