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Neuroscience & Behavior
Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
testosterone, emotion, threat, rhesus, non-human primates
The effects of testosterone (T) extend beyond reproductive behavior to the areas of cognitive and emotional functioning. While T effects on cognition have been extensively investigated, less is known about the role of T in the processing of emotional stimuli. Considering the role that T plays in aggressive behavior and dominance status, it is of particular interest to determine whether T modulates the processing of social threat. Due to their similarities to humans in brain organization, reproductive endocrinology and affective regulation, rhesus monkeys (macaca mulatta) provide an excellent model to investigate this relationship. In a within-subjects design, six male rhesus monkeys underwent treatment to suppress endogenous T and received either T or oil replacement. Tests of anxiety, attention and memory for social and non-social emotional stimuli, and risk-taking were administered to animals during both treatments. Data analyses indicate that T treatment resulted in faster response times, but had no effect on anxiety, attention or memory for emotional stimuli, or on risk-taking behavior. There are several limitations to this study that may account for the lack of effect of T and therefore, further investigation of the relationship between T and emotional processing is warranted.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair