Vigilance for threat accounts for inter-individual variation in physiological responses to adversity in rhesus macaques: A cognition × environment approach

Tara M. Mandalaywala, Lauren A. Petrullo, Karen J. Parker, Dario Maestripieri, James P. Higham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Early life adversity (ELA) can lead to poor health later in life. However, there is significant variation in outcomes, with some individuals displaying resilience even in the face of adversity. Using longitudinal data collected from free-ranging rhesus macaques between birth and 3 years, we examined whether individual variation in vigilance for threat, an early emerging attentional bias, can account for variation in long-term outcomes between individuals reared in similar environments. We found that ELA and vigilance during infancy interact to predict physiological dysregulation in Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) stress responses during juvenility. During high stress periods, High ELA juveniles with high vigilance exhibit less asymmetry than High ELA juveniles with low vigilance. This suggests that although increased vigilance is viewed as a negative consequence of ELA, it might also be a mechanism by which vulnerable individuals proactively buffer themselves from negative outcomes in unstable or threatening environments.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1031-1038
    Number of pages8
    JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Dec 2017



    • asymmetry
    • cognitive bias
    • cortisol
    • early life adversity
    • rhesus macaque
    • salivary α-amylase

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Developmental Neuroscience
    • Developmental Biology
    • Behavioral Neuroscience

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