Preference for novel faces in male infant monkeys predicts cerebrospinal fluid oxytocin concentrations later in life

Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 11;7(1):12935. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-13109-5.


The ability to recognize individuals is a critical skill acquired early in life for group living species. In primates, individual recognition occurs predominantly through face discrimination. Despite the essential adaptive value of this ability, robust individual differences in conspecific face recognition exist, yet its associated biology remains unknown. Although pharmacological administration of oxytocin has implicated this neuropeptide in face perception and social memory, no prior research has tested the relationship between individual differences in face recognition and endogenous oxytocin concentrations. Here we show in a male rhesus monkey cohort (N = 60) that infant performance in a task used to determine face recognition ability (specifically, the ability of animals to show a preference for a novel face) robustly predicts cerebrospinal fluid, but not blood, oxytocin concentrations up to five years after behavioural assessment. These results argue that central oxytocin biology may be related to individual face perceptual abilities necessary for group living, and that these differences are stable traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Facial Recognition / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Oxytocin / blood
  • Oxytocin / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • Oxytocin