Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Depression May Be Monkey Business, Too

I'm not really feeling up to flinging anything today.

Two new studies suggest that our simian cousins may have more in common with us than we realize.

Female monkeys suffer from depression, especially when they're isolated, while the innate sense of fairness in chimpanzees seems to be pegged to interpersonal relationships, researchers have found.

The findings could give experts more insight into how monkeys and chimpanzees evolved separately from humans. And in the case of one monkey study, "we can study these animals and learn things that will help us understand human depression better," said co-author Carol Shively, a professor of pathology at Wake Forest Baptist School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, N.C.

While some animals appear to suffer from depression, researchers have so far only used rats as a model for human behavior, Shively said. For example, researchers have given Prozac to rats to see if it helps motivate them to swim longer.

In her study, Shively and her colleagues studied 36 adult female cynomolgus monkeys who lived with other monkeys in groups of four. The findings appear in the April issue of the Journal of Biological Psychology.

Story here.

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