Skip to comments.Mutant Monkeys get Hooked On A Drug Called Mum
Posted on 04/01/2008 1:21:04 PM PDT by blam
Mutant monkeys get hooked on a drug called mum
15:35 01 April 2008
NewScientist.com news service
A gene mutation determines whether or not macaque infants make a fuss when their mothers are missing, say researchers. A similar mutation has been linked to alcoholism and drug abuse in humans.
The work could explain why some children are cry babies and some are more independent, says Christina Barr, a neuroscientist at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Maryland, US, who led the study.
"There are some kids that go with the flow and there are some that are very reluctant [to leave their mothers]," she says.
When infants and young animals spend time with their mothers, their bodies release natural drugs called opioids. Molecular receptors on brain cells sop up these chemicals and provide temporary feelings of pleasure.
Opiates like morphine act via the same receptors, and minute doses of the drug not enough to sedate quieten young macaques after their mothers leave.
Previous research has suggested that 25 to 30% of macaques have a genetic mutation in the mu-opioid receptor that makes them more sensitive to the brain chemicals.
To determine whether the mutation affects maternal attachment, Barr and her colleague Steve Suomi observed 97 six-month-old macaques after they were separated from their mothers for several four-day stretches. The monkeys were born in captivity.
All the infants howled the first time they faced life without their mother, but most of the animals grew accustomed to the separation and made less noise the next time they were separated.
Not so for the animals with one or two copies of the opioid-enhancing mutation. Those monkeys continued to cry out for their absent mothers.
(Excerpt) Read more at newscientist.com ...
Is that from the wizard of oz?
Hmmm... Give a kid opium and the little whiner quiets down. That would have been handy to know about 30 years ago.