Neonatal face-to-face interactions promote later social behaviour in infant rhesus monkeys

Amanda M. Dettmer, Stefano S.K. Kaburu, Elizabeth A. Simpson, Annika Paukner, Valentina Sclafani, Kristen L. Byers, Ashley M. Murphy, Michelle Miller, Neal Marquez, Grace M. Miller, Stephen J. Suomi, Pier F. Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


In primates, including humans, mothers engage in face-to-face interactions with their infants, with frequencies varying both within and across species. However, the impact of this variation in face-to-face interactions on infant social development is unclear. Here we report that infant monkeys (Macaca mulatta) who engaged in more neonatal face-to-face interactions with mothers have increased social interactions at 2 and 5 months. In a controlled experiment, we show that this effect is not due to physical contact alone: monkeys randomly assigned to receive additional neonatal face-to-face interactions (mutual gaze and intermittent lip-smacking) with human caregivers display increased social interest at 2 months, compared with monkeys who received only additional handling. These studies suggest that face-to-face interactions from birth promote young primate social interest and competency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11940
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jun 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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