Effects of altering testosterone in early infancy on social behaviour in captive yearling rhesus monkeys

C M Nevison, Gillian Ruth Brown, A F Dixson

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Thirteen male and twenty female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), aged 9-12 months, living as members of long term captive social groups: were observed in order to quantify sex differences in a variety of behaviour patterns. Six males had been treated with a GnRH agonist (Meterelin: M) during their first six postnatal months, in order to block the surge of testosterone which occurs at this time. Ten females had been treated with testosterone (T) during their first six months, in order to mimic the postnatal T surge seen in males. The remaining 7 males and 10 females acted as control subjects. Marked sex differences were measured in frequencies of play and socio-sexual behaviour in these juvenile monkeys. However, neither M nor T treatments produced any significant changes in frequencies of these behaviour patterns. Although M-treated males showed a tendency (p < 0.1) to groom others for longer periods than control males, and control females tended to spend more time alone than T-treated females, we were unable to measure any significant (p < 0.05) effects of either M-or T-treatment upon affiliative behaviour in juvenile rhesus monkeys. We conclude, therefore, that the postnatal T surge in male rhesus monkeys does not affect development of sexually dimorphic and associated patterns of behaviour. Presumably, organisational effects of T upon these behaviour patterns must be completed before birth in this species. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1397-1403
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


  • rhesus monkey
  • behavioural sex differences
  • testosterone
  • GnRH agonists


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