Effects of Social Subordination on Macaque Neurobehavioral Outcomes: Focus on Neurodevelopment

  • Jodi R. GodfreyEmail author
  • Melanie Pincus
  • Mar M. Sanchez
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


Social stress during childhood and adolescence leads to alterations in emotional and stress reactivity and neuroendocrine function. These negative experiences have also been associated with alterations in brain development that lead to psychopathology, such as anxiety and depression, which are more prevalent in females than males and often emerge during adolescence. As longitudinal studies in children are fraught with difficulties and limitations, animal models provide an invaluable tool to understand the mechanisms underlying the emergence and development of emotional dysregulation. Macaques provide an excellent model organism, as naturally occurring social subordination in social groups is an ethologically valid chronic social stress experience with reported pathological effects. Although this model has been used to investigate the effects of social subordination stress on numerous neural and behavioral outcomes in adults, few studies have focused on elucidating its effects during development. In this chapter, we review the effects of chronic subordination stress in adult macaques, but also the emerging literature on its neurodevelopmental consequences, particularly for females. Findings indicate that social subordination affects brain structure and function, particularly corticolimbic circuits that regulate social and emotional processes and endocrine function. This neural adaptation may enhance the ability of subordinates to effectively navigate social environments requiring rapid recognition of social signals and the social status of conspecifics relative to self. This translational animal model of social stress is vital to understand the basic mechanisms and principles that translate social experiences into developmental outcomes in our own species.


Nonhuman primate Social stress Neuroimaging Neurobiology 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jodi R. Godfrey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melanie Pincus
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mar M. Sanchez
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Yerkes National Primate Research CenterEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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