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Madison, WI, United States

Snowdon C.T.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Ziegler T.E.,Wisconsin National Primate Research Center

Prolactin is associated with both maternal and paternal care and appears important in developing a bond between parent and infant. In contrast with oxytocin, another hormone important in infant care, there is scant information on the role of prolactin in maintaining adult heterosexual relationships. We present here the first results demonstrating a relationship between prolactin levels and sexual and contact affiliation behavior in a pair-bonded species. We studied cotton-top tamarins, a socially-monogamous, cooperatively-breeding primate. We measured chronic urinary prolactin levels over a four week period to include the entire female ovulatory cycle and correlated prolactin levels in males and females with simultaneous measures of contact affiliation and sexual behavior. Current mothers who were no longer nursing displayed lower amounts of sexual behavior and proximity than non-breeding females and also had marginally lower levels of prolactin. The prolactin levels of males and females were similar within pairs, and variation in prolactin levels for both sexes was explained both by the amount of sexual behavior and contact affiliation. The results parallel a previous study that compared oxytocin levels with sociosexual behavior in the same species, and supports the hypothesis that both prolactin and oxytocin are involved in pair-bonding as well as in infant care. © 2015 Snowdon, Ziegler. Source

Sanchez S.M.,Autonomous University of Madrid | Ziegler T.E.,Wisconsin National Primate Research Center | Snowdon C.T.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Animal Behaviour

Although there has been great interest in the evolutionary approach to cooperative breeding species, few studies actually directly compare fathers and mothers on their motivation to parent offspring. We tested the responsiveness of common marmoset mothers and fathers to vocal and olfactory cues from their own and other infants using a two-chamber test apparatus designed to evaluate responses in the absence of competition from other caregivers within the family. We tested parentally experienced mothers and fathers living with young infants and former parents with no current offspring to address the following questions: (1) do mothers and fathers respond equally to sensory cues of infants; (2) do parents discriminate cues of their own offspring when the infants are highly dependent and when the infants are more independent; and (3) are parents responsive to both auditory and olfactory cues? Mothers and fathers reacted similarly in all tests. Parents responded equally to isolation calls from their own and unfamiliar dependent infants and there was minimal response to olfactory cues. Responses to infant vocal cues were significantly stronger when infants were dependent upon direct parental care. There was no difference in response between parents whose infants were no longer dependent and former parents with no current offspring. The results show that both parents are highly responsive to infant vocal cues when their own infants are dependent on parental care, supporting an effect of hormonal priming. However, parents only showed behavioural discrimination between vocalizations from their own and unfamiliar infants when their infants were mostly independent. © 2014 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Source

Seltzer L.J.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Ziegler T.E.,Wisconsin National Primate Research Center | Pollak S.D.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Vocalizations are important components of social behaviour in many vertebrate species, including our own. Less well-understood are the hormonal mechanisms involved in response to vocal cues, and how these systems may influence the course of behavioural evolution. The neurohormone oxytocin (OT) partly governs a number of biological and social processes critical to fitness, such as attachment between mothers and their young, and suppression of the stress response after contact with trusted conspecfics. Rodent studies suggest that OT's release is contingent upon direct tactile contact with such individuals, but we hypothesized that vocalizations might be capable of producing the same effect. To test our hypothesis, we chose human mother-daughter dyads and applied a social stressor to the children, following which we randomly assigned participants into complete contact, speech-only or no-contact conditions. Children receiving a full complement of comfort including physical, vocal and non-verbal contact showed the highest levels of OTand the swiftest return to baseline of a biological marker of stress (salivary cortisol), but a strikingly similar hormonal profile emerged in children comforted solely by their mother's voice. Our results suggest that vocalizations may be as important as touch to the neuroendocrine regulation of social bonding in our species. © 2010 The Royal Society. Source

Radovick S.,Johns Hopkins University | Levine J.E.,Wisconsin National Primate Research Center | Wolfe A.,Johns Hopkins University
Frontiers in Endocrinology

Reproductive function is regulated by the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone from the pituitary and the steroid hormones from the gonads. The dynamic changes in the levels of the reproductive hormones regulate secondary sex char-acteristics, gametogenesis, cellular function, and behavior. Hypothalamic GnRH neurons, with cell bodies located in the basal hypothalamus, represent the final common path-way for neuronally derived signals to the pituitary. As such, they serve as integrators of a dizzying array of signals including sensory inputs mediating information about cir-cadian, seasonal, behavioral, pheromonal, and emotional cues. Additionally, information about peripheral physiological function may also be included in the integrative signal to the GnRH neuron. These signals may communicate information about metabolic status, disease, or infection. Gonadal steroid hormones arguably exert the most important effects on GnRH neuronal function. In both males and females, the gonadal steroid hormones exert negative feedback regulation on axis activity at both the level of the pituitary and the hypothalamus. These negative feedback loops regulate homeostasis of steroid hormone levels. In females, a cyclic reversal of estrogen feedback produces a positive feedback loop at both the hypothalamic and pituitary levels. Central positive feedback results in a dra-matic increase in GnRH secretion (Moenter et al., 1992; Xia et al., 1992; Clarke, 1993; Sisk et al., 2001).This is coupled with an increase in pituitary sensitivity to GnRH (Savoy-Moore et al., 1980;Turzillo et al., 1995), which produces the massive surge in secretion of LH that triggers ovulation. While feedback regulation of the axis in males is in part mediated by estrogen receptors (ER), there is not a clear consensus as to the relative role of ER versus AR signaling in males (Lindzey et al., 1998; Wersinger et al., 1999). Therefore, this review will focus on estrogenic signaling in the female. © 2012 Radovick, Levine and Wolfe. Source

Seltzer L.J.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Prososki A.R.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Ziegler T.E.,Wisconsin National Primate Research Center | Pollak S.D.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Evolution and Human Behavior

Human speech evidently conveys an adaptive advantage, given its apparently rapid dissemination through the ancient world and global use today. As such, speech must be capable of altering human biology in a positive way, possibly through those neuroendocrine mechanisms responsible for strengthening the social bonds between individuals. Indeed, speech between trusted individuals is capable of reducing levels of salivary cortisol, often considered a biomarker of stress, and increasing levels of urinary oxytocin, a hormone involved in the formation and maintenance of positive relationships. It is not clear, however, whether it is the uniquely human grammar, syntax, content and/or choice of words that causes these physiological changes, or whether the prosodic elements of speech, which are present in the vocal cues of many other species, are responsible. In order to tease apart these elements of human communication, we examined the hormonal responses of female children who instant messaged their mothers after undergoing a stressor. We discovered that unlike children interacting with their mothers in person or over the phone, girls who instant messaged did not release oxytocin; instead, these participants showed levels of salivary cortisol as high as control subjects who did not interact with their parents at all. We conclude that the comforting sound of a familiar voice is responsible for the hormonal differences observed and, hence, that similar differences may be seen in other species using vocal cues to communicate. © 2012. Source

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