Karen L Bales

Karen L Bales
University of California, Davis | UCD · Department of Psychology

About

212
Publications
19,780
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
5,705
Citations

Publications

Publications (212)
Article
Coppery titi monkeys maintain pair bonds through affiliative behaviours (e.g. tail twining, maintaining social proximity). Findings from previous studies suggest that the amount of time pairs spend in affiliative contact is not stable over time within pairs and differs across pairs. The present study investigates several predictors (temperament, ag...
Preprint
Prairie voles are among a small group of mammals that display long-term social attachment between mating partners. Many pharmacological studies show that signaling via the oxytocin receptor (OxtR) is critical for the display of social monogamy in these animals. We used CRISPR-mutagenesis to independently generate three different OxtR null mutant pr...
Article
Full-text available
Social monogamy is a reproductive strategy characterized by pair living and defense of a common territory. Pair bonding, sometimes displayed by monogamous species, is an affective construct that includes preference for a specific partner, distress upon separation, and the ability of the partner to buffer against stress. Many seahorse species show a...
Article
Oxytocin has been used to treat neurodevelopmental conditions in adolescent patients but possible effects on reproductive development have not been well investigated. The effects of daily intra-nasal oxytocin treatment (12–18 months of age) on puberty and fertility were studied in colony-housed, male and female titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus)....
Article
Full-text available
In socially monogamous titi monkeys, involuntary separation from a pair mate can produce behavioral distress and increased cortisol production. The neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) is thought to play an important role in the separation response of pair-bonded species. Previous studies from our lab have shown that chronic intranasal oxytocin (IN OXT) dur...
Article
Full-text available
Intranasal oxytocin (IN OXT) administration has been proposed as a pharmacological treatment for a range of biomedical conditions including neurodevelopmental disorders. However, studies evaluating the potential long-lasting effects of chronic IN OXT during development are still scarce. Here we conducted a follow-up study of a cohort of adult titi...
Article
Full-text available
Background The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates mammalian social behavior. Disruptions in oxytocin signaling are a feature of many psychopathologies. One commonly studied biomarker for oxytocin involvement in psychiatric diseases is DNA methylation at the oxytocin receptor gene ( OXTR ). Such studies focus on DNA methylation in two regions of OXTR ,...
Article
Full-text available
Acoustic signals are ubiquitous across mammalian taxa. They serve a myriad of functions related to the formation and maintenance of social bonds, and can provide conspecifics information about caller condition, motivation, and identity. Disentangling the relative importance of evolutionary mechanisms that shape vocal variation is difficult, and lit...
Article
Full-text available
Pair bonding is a psychological construct that we attempt to operationalize via behavioral and physiological measurements. Yet, pair bonding has been both defined differently in various taxonomic groups as well as used loosely to describe not just a psychological and affective phenomenon, but also a social structure or mating system (either social...
Article
Full-text available
Steroid hormones are critical to the regulation of sociosexual behavior. Their role in the formation of pair bonds is complicated by the relative scarcity of this social system in mammals, as well as species and taxonomic differences in endocrine systems. In the present study, we experimentally manipulated the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in...
Article
Paternal absence can significantly alter bio‐behavioral development in many biparental species. This effect has generally been demonstrated by comparing the development of offspring reared under biparental care with those reared by a single mother. However, studies employing this design conflate two significant modifications to early life experienc...
Article
Full-text available
How individuals respond to and cope with stress is linked with their health and well-being. It is presumed that early stress responsiveness helps shape the health of the developing organism, but the relationship between stress responsiveness and early immune function during development is not well-known. We hypothesized that stress responsiveness m...
Article
Full-text available
Newborns exposed to prenatal opioids often experience intense postnatal withdrawal after cessation of the opioid, called neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), with limited pre- and postnatal therapeutic options available. In a prior study in pregnant mice we demonstrated that the peripherally selective opioid antagonist, 6β-naltrexol (6BN), i...
Article
Full-text available
Contemporary theory that emphasizes the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin in mammalian sociality has been shaped by seminal vole research that revealed interspecific variation in neuroendocrine circuitry by mating system. However, substantial challenges exist in interpreting and translating these rodent findings to other mammalian groups, including...
Article
Full-text available
The Snake Detection Theory implicates constricting snakes in the origin of primates, and venomous snakes for differences between catarrhine and platyrrhine primate visual systems. Although many studies using different methods have found very rapid snake detection in catarrhines, including humans, to date no studies have examined how quickly platyrr...
Article
Full-text available
Rationale Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that contributes to certain aspects of social behavior, like play and reward, by binding to cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1). Most interesting is the recent discovery that anandamide may be mobilized by oxytocin receptor activation under certain contexts, particularly in the nucleus accumbens. Objectives...
Article
Full-text available
Developmental exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) increases the risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however, the underlying neurobiology of this effect is not fully understood. Here we used the socially monogamous prairie vole as a translational model of developmental SSRI exposure. Paired female prairie voles (n = 20) wer...
Article
Full-text available
Social cognition is facilitated by oxytocin receptors (OXTR) in the hippocampus, a brain region that changes dynamically with pregnancy, parturition, and parenting experience. We investigated the impact of parenthood on hippocampal OXTR in male and female titi monkeys, a pair-bonding primate species that exhibits biparental care of offspring. We hy...
Article
Pair-bonded primates have uniquely enduring relationships and partners engage in a suite of behaviors to maintain these close bonds. In titi monkeys, pair bond formation has been extensively studied, but changes across relationship tenure remain unstudied. We evaluated differences in behavioral indicators of pair bonding in newly formed (~6 months...
Article
Across many species, endocannabinoids play an important role in regulating social play, reward, and anxiety. These processes are mediated through at least two distinct cannabinoid receptors (CB), CB1 and CB2. CB1 expression is found in appreciable densities across regions of the brain that integrate memory with socio‐spatial information; many of th...
Preprint
Full-text available
Newborns exposed to prenatal opioids often experience intense postnatal withdrawal after cessation of the opioid, called neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), with limited pre- and postnatal therapeutic options available. In a prior study in pregnant mice we demonstrated that the peripherally selective neutral opioid antagonist, 6β-naltrexol...
Article
Mate guarding and coordinated behaviors between partners are important for the maintenance of monogamous pair bonds. To study the effects of a perceived unfamiliar social intruder on females' behavior, we used coppery titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus). We examined the effects of male aggressive temperament on females' behavior and the effects of...
Article
Full-text available
As social animals, many primates use acoustic communication to maintain relationships. Vocal individuality has been documented in a diverse range of primate species and call types, many of which have presumably different functions. Auditory recognition of one's neighbors may confer a selective advantage if identifying conspecifics decreases the nee...
Article
Full-text available
Close social bonds are integral for good health and longevity in humans and non-human primates (NHPs), yet we have very little understanding of the neurobiological differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Our current understanding of social bonding is grounded in Bowlby’s theory of attachment. Work done with human infants and adult...
Article
Full-text available
Duets in pair-bonding primates serve as a primary mode of communication between pairs, and duets may provide cues to conspecifics regarding the calling individual or pair. Here, we test the hypothesis that pulse elements in coppery titi monkey duets vary with condition and identity of the caller. We predicted that pulse elements would vary with age...
Article
Intranasal oxytocin (IN OXT) has been proposed as a treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, little is known about the effects of long-term exposure. This is the first study in a non-human primate species to examine how developmental exposure to chronic IN OXT affects juvenile's interactions with family members, social preference for...
Article
Full-text available
Many primates use acoustic communication to maintain social relationships. Specifically, territorial, pair-bonding primates participate in coordinated vocal duets. Recognition of neighbors should be selected for, as identifying conspecifics may decrease the need for costly territorial behaviors. While similar species show vocal individuality, it is...
Article
The second‐to‐fourth digit (2D:4D) ratio is a sexually‐dimorphic biomarker for prenatal sex hormone exposure. We investigated whether titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus) exhibit sexually‐dimorphic 2D:4D ratio, and whether variation in 2D:4D ratio correlates with maternal testosterone and estrogen levels during early pregnancy. Subjects were 61 adu...
Article
Several neurobiological mechanisms are implicated in the formation of selective pair bonds in socially monogamous mammals, however much less is known about the mechanisms that underlie the long-term behavioral maintenance of these bonds. In prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), agonistic behavior that contributes to pair bond maintenance are regula...
Article
Full-text available
Eye-tracking methods measure what humans and other animals visually attend to in the environment. In nonhuman primates, eye tracking can be used to test hypotheses about how primates process social information. This information can further our understanding of primate behavior as well as offer unique translational potential to explore causes of or...
Article
Full-text available
The prosocial hormone oxytocin (OXT) has become a new target for research on the etiology and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition characterized by deficits in social function. However, it remains unknown whether there are alterations in OXT receptor (OXTR) levels in the ASD brain. This study quantified the density of OXTR and o...
Article
Full-text available
Collective behaviors, including flocking and group vocalizing, are readily observable across a diversity of free-living avian populations, yet we know little about how neural and ecological factors interactively regulate these behaviors. Because of their involvement in mediating a variety of social behaviors, including avian flocking, nonapeptides...
Article
It has become increasingly clear that the nonapeptide hormones oxytocin and vasopressin have more diverse behavioral and physiological effects across species and across individuals than was initially recognized. To reflect this variation, we would like to introduce our Special Issue, entitled Oxytocin and Vasopressin in Primate Behavior, by celebra...
Article
Full-text available
Female parenting is obligate in mammals, but fathering behavior among mammals is rare. Only 3–5% of mammalian species exhibit biparental care, including humans, and mechanisms of fathering behavior remain sparsely studied. However, in species where it does exist, paternal care is often crucial to the survivorship of offspring. The present study is...
Article
Full-text available
Female parenting is obligate in mammals, but fathering behavior among mammals is rare. Only 3–5% of mammalian species exhibit biparental care, including humans, and mechanisms of fathering behavior remain sparsely studied. However, in species where it does exist, paternal care is often crucial to the survivorship of offspring. The present study is...
Article
In this paper, our goal is to explore what is known about the role of social touch during development. We first address the neural substrates of social touch and the role of tactile experience in neural development. We discuss natural variation in early exposure to social touch, followed by a discussion on experimental manipulations of social touch...
Article
Coordination of oxytocin (OT) activity and partner interactions is important for the facilitation and maintenance of monogamous pair bonds. We used coppery titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) to identify the effects of male aggressive temperament on OT activity, affiliative partner‐directed behaviors, aggressive partner‐directed behaviors, anxiety‐re...
Article
Mammalian sociality is regulated in part by the neuropeptide oxytocin. In prairie voles, subtle variation in early life experience changes oxytocin receptor-mediated social behaviors. We report that low levels of early care in voles leads to de novo DNA methylation at specific regulatory sites in the oxytocin receptor gene (Oxtr), impacting gene ex...
Article
Oxytocin (OT) elicits weight loss in diet-induced obese (DIO) rodents, nonhuman primates, and humans, in part, by reducing food intake. Chronic OT administration produces more sustained weight loss in high fat diet (HFD)-fed DIO rodents relative to chow-fed controls, but the reasons for this effect remain unclear. We hypothesized that HFD-induced o...
Article
Full-text available
For altricial mammalian species, early life social bonds are constructed principally between offspring and their mothers, and the mother-offspring relationship sets the trajectory for offspring bio-behavioral development. In the rare subset of monogamous and biparental species, offspring experience an expanded social network which includes a father...
Preprint
Full-text available
Female parenting is obligate in mammals, but fathering behavior among mammals is rare. Only 3–5% of mammalian species exhibit biparental care, including humans, and mechanisms of fathering behavior remain sparsely studied. However, in species where it does exist, paternal care is often crucial to the survivorship of offspring. The present study is...
Article
Full-text available
Two separate lines of research indicate (a) that prenatal stress is associated with heightened behavioral and physiological reactivity and (b) that these postnatal phenotypes are associated with increased susceptibility to both positive and negative developmental experiences. Therefore, prenatal stress may increase sensitivity to the rearing enviro...
Article
Pedigree metrics are essential for investigating colony genetic structure. The genetic structure of a closed Callicebus cupreus colony was examined using multigenerational pedigrees. Inbreeding was low, but genetic drift caused the loss of founder genome representation. Pedigrees can be used to detect founder representation and prevent bottlenecks...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the neurobiology of social bonding in non-human primates is a critical step in understanding the evolution of monogamy, as well as understanding the neural substrates for emotion and behavior. Coppery titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) form strong pair bonds, characterized by selective preference for their pair mate, mate-guarding, phy...
Article
Full-text available
It is now widely recognized that social bonds are critical to human health and well-being. One of the most important social bonds is the attachment relationship between two adults, known as the pair bond. The pair bond involves many characteristics that are inextricably linked to quality of health, including providing a secure psychological base an...
Article
Background: The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) is a key regulator of social and emotional behaviors. The effects of OT are context dependent, and it has been proposed that OT increases the salience of both positive and negative social cues. Here we tested whether the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) mediates anxiogenic effects of OT. Method...
Article
Full-text available
Research supports a modulatory role for arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the expression of socially motivated behaviors in mammals. The acute effects of AVP administration are demonstrably pro-social across species, providing the justification for an ever-increasing measure of clinical interest over the last decade. Combining these results with non-in...
Article
The open field test is commonly used to measure anxiety-related behavior and exploration in rodents. Here, we used it as a standardized novel environment in which to evaluate the behavioral response of infant titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus), to determine the effect of presence of individual family members, and to assess how adverse early experien...
Article
The study of parenting in animals has allowed us to come to a better understanding of the neural and physiological mechanisms that underlie mammalian parental behavior. The long-term effects of parenting (and parental abuse or neglect) on offspring, and the neurobiological changes that underlie those changes, have also been best studied in animal m...
Article
Social bonds, especially attachment relationships, are crucial to our health and happiness. However, what we know about the neural substrates of these bonds is almost exclusively limited to rodent models and correlational experiments in humans. Here, we used socially monogamous non-human primates, titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus) to experimentally...
Article
Full-text available
Early experience and social context interact to alter the phenotype of complex social behaviors. These early experiences can also result in alterations to cortical organization and connections. Given the ability of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) to modulate social and reproductive behavior, OT is likely involved in these cortical processes. However...
Article
Social bonds are necessary for many mammals to survive and reproduce successfully. These bonds (i.e. pair-bonds, friendships, filial bonds) are characterized by different periods of development, longevity and strength. Socially monogamous species display certain behaviors not seen in many other mammals, such as adult pairbonding and male parenting....
Article
Full-text available
Social monogamy at its most basic is a group structure in which two adults form a unit and share a territory. However, many socially monogamous pairs display attachment relationships known as pair bonds, in which there is a mutual preference for the partner and distress upon separation. The neural and hormonal basis of this response to separation f...
Article
Full-text available
Socially monogamous prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) display remarkable individual variation in social behaviors, which has been associated with differences in early life experience and neuropeptide receptor densities. These differences are also seen in the wild, where approximately 70% of young voles remain in their natal group as non-breeding...