Sex Differences in Chimpanzee Behavior May Lead to New Model for Mental Illness

Sex Differences in Chimpanzee Behavior May Lead to New Model for Mental Illness
Thu, 03/10/2016

Elizabeth Doughman, Editor-in-Chief

Chimpanzees exhibited significant genetic and neuroanatomical sex-related differences while scratching, a common indicator of anxiety, according to a new study from Georgia State University. This reveals their promise as a model of human mental illness.

Study finds genetic link that may make us more prone to anxiety

Are YOU hardwired to worry? Study finds genetic link that may make us more prone to anxiety

  • Researchers studying stressed chimps have found that anxious behaviour can be linked to a variation in specific genes
  • They also found a link between anxiety and the density of grey matter 
  • Experts spotted these genes and structures varied across the sexes
  • They believe the findings could be used to study mental health in humans

Read more:

Psychophysiology: Special Issue Features RDoC Initiative

Psychophysiology: Special Issue Features RDoC Initiative

 • Science Update

The March 2016 issue of the journal Psychophysiology will be a special one focused on NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)initiative. As special editors of the issue, Drs. Christopher Patrick and Greg Hajcak offer a fresh perspective on the initiative and a platform for discussion among researchers involved in RDoC-related research.

See full story at NIMH Science News.

Looking for the brain basis of chimp personality

BPS Research Digest

Some chimps are more outgoing than others. Some like trying out new foods and games while their friends stick to the tried and tested. In short, chimps have different personalities, just like people do. What’s more, psychologists investigating chimp personality have found that their traits tend to coalescence into five main factors, again much like human personality. Three of these factors are actually named the same as their human equivalents: Extraversion, Openness and Agreeableness. The other two are Dominance (a bit like the opposite of the human trait of Neuroticism) and Reactivity/Undependability (opposite to the human trait Conscientiousness).

Now a team of psychologists and primatologists has scanned the brains of 107 chimpanzees to try to find the neural correlates of personality differences in our evolutionary cousin. The neurobiological basis of human personality is a thriving area of research, but this study published in NeuroImage is the first to look for the brain basis of chimp personality.

Check out the full story here.

Delay of gratification linked to how brain structures are connected

The ability to delay gratification in chimpanzees is linked to how specific structures of the brain are connected and communicate with each other, according to researchers at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.

Their findings were published June 3 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Read full story here.

Understanding the Origin of Psychopathic Tendencies Through Chimpanzees



Psychopathy, a personality disorder characterized by antisocial behavior, lack of empathy, and disinhibition, is typically investigated among clinical and forensic samples, and sometimes among the general population. But a team led by Georgia State University researchers is now studying these tendencies in chimpanzees. Their findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science.


Read full story at APS Observations.