Bidirectional Relationships Between Tryptophan and Social Behavior in Vervet Monkeys

  • M. J. Raleigh
  • M. T. McGuire
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 294)


Exogenous tryptophan induces a wide variety of behavioral effects in socially-living vervet monkeys. Tryptophan administration produces dosedependent increases in grooming, proximity to group members, and other affiliative behaviors (Raleigh et al., 1980). In stable social groups, tryptophan administration also reduces aggressive, submissive, and retaliatory aspects of agonistic behavior (McGuire and Raleigh, 1985). Pharmacological and physiological studies suggest that tryptophan’s effects are mediated by central serotonin (McGuire et al., 1982; Raleigh et al., 1985). The diversity of the behavioral effects, together with the diffuse distribution of central serotonergic projections and the heterogeneity of serotonergic receptors make it unlikely that each of these distinct behavioral effects is caused by the action of serotonin alone on some final common motor pathway. Rather, enhanced central serotonergic neurotransmission appears to promote both the mood and cognitive states that in turn facilitate the expression of quiescent, calm bahaviors (Raleigh et al., 1988).


None None Dominant Male Vervet Monkey Subordinate Male Affiliative Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brammer, G.L., McGuire, M.T., and Raleigh, M.J., 1987, Similarity of 5HT2 receptor sites in dominant and subordinate vervet monkeys, Fharmac. Biochem. Behav., 27: 701–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chamberlain, B., Ervin, F.R., Pihl, R.O., and Young, S.N., 1987, The effect of raising or lowering tryptophan levels on aggression in vervet monkeys, Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav., 28: 503–510.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cheney, D.L., and Seyfarth, R.M., 1983, Nonrandom dispersal in free-ranging vervet monkeys: social and genetic consequences, Amer. Natur., 122: 392–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cheney, D.L., Seyforth, R., and Smuts, B., 1986, Social relationships and social cognition in nonhuman primates, Science, 234: 1361–1366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cowen, P.J., 1988, Neuroendocrine responses to tryptophan as an index of brain serotonin function, in: “Amino Acid Availability and Brain Function in Health and Disease”, Huether, G., ed., Springer, Berlin, pp. 285–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ebadi, M., and Simonneaux, Ambivalence on the multiplicity of mammalian aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, this volume.Google Scholar
  7. Fairbanks, L.A., 1988, Vervet monkey grandmothers: effect on mother-infant relationships, Behavior, 104: 176–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hauser, M.H., and Fairbanks, L.A., 1988, Mother-offspring conflict in vervet monkeys: variation in response to ecological conditions, Anim. Behav., 36: 802–813.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Keddy, A.C., 1986, Female mate choice in vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus). Am. J. Primatol., 10: 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kraemer, G.W., 1985, The primate social environment, brain neurochemical changes and psychopathology, Trends Neurosci., 8: 339–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lehnert, H., and Beyer, J., Cardiovascular and endocrine properties of L-tryptophan in combination with various diets, this volume.Google Scholar
  12. McGuire, M.T., 1974, The St. Kitts green monkey, Contrib. Primatol., 1: 1–199.Google Scholar
  13. McGuire, M.T., and Raleigh, M.J., 1985, Serotonin-behavior interactions in vervet monkeys, Psychopharm. Bull., 21: 458–463.Google Scholar
  14. McGuire, M.T., and Raleigh, M.J., 1987, Serotonin, social behavior, and aggression on vervet monkeys, in: “Psychopharmacology of Aggression”, Mos J., and Brain, P.F., eds., Martinus Nijhoff, Dardrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 207–222.Google Scholar
  15. McGuire, M.T., Raleigh, M.J., and Brammer, G.L., 1982, Sociopharmacology, Ann. Rev. Pharm. Toxicol., 27: 643–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Moir, A.T.B., and Eccleston, D., 1968, The effects of precursor loading in the cerebral metabolism of 5-hydroxyindoles, J. Neurochem., 15: 1093–1108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Raleigh, M.J., 1987, Differential behavioral effects of tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan in vervet monkeys, influence of catecholaminergic systems, Psychopharmacology, 93: 44–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Raleigh, M.J., Brammer, G.L., McGuire, M.T., and Yuwiler, A., 1985, Dominant social status facilitates the behavioral effects of serotonergic agonists, Brain Res., 348: 274–282.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Raleigh, M.J., Brammer, G.L., Yuwiler, A., Flannery, J.W., McGuire, M.T., and Geller, E., 1980, Serotonergic influences on the social behavior of vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus). Exp. Neurol., 68: 322–334.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Raleigh, M.J., and McGuire, M.T., Female influence of male dominance acquisition in captive vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus), Animal Behav., 38: 59–67.Google Scholar
  21. Raleigh, M.J., McGuire, M.T., and Brammer, G.L., 1988, Behavioral and cognitive effects of altered tryptophan and tyrosine supply, in: “Amino Acid Availability and Brain Function in Health and Disease”, Huether, G., ed., Springer, Berlin, pp. 299–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Struhsaker, T.T., 1967, Behavior of vervet monkeys, Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool., 82: 1–64.Google Scholar
  23. Winslow, J.T., and Miczek, K.A., 1988, Androgen dependency of alcohol effects on aggressive behavior: a seasonal rhythm in high-ranking squirrel monkeys, Psychopharmacology, 95: 92–98.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Young, S.N., 1987, The effect of altering tryptophan levels on human mood and behavior, in: “Progress in Tryptophan and Serotonin Research 1986”, Bender, D.A., Joseph, M.H., Kochen, W., and Steinhart, H., eds., de Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 225–228.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Raleigh
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • M. T. McGuire
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUCLA School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Sepulved Veterans Administration Medical CenterNonhuman Primate LaboratorySepulvedaUSA
  3. 3.Neurobiochemistry LaboratoryBrentwood Veterans Administration Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations