Primate Genomics Initiative
"Genetics of decision making in rhesus macaques"
A collaboration with Michael Platt (Duke University).
Cayo Santiago Field Station is a beautiful 38 acre island located 1 km off the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico, which is inhabited by a free-ranging colony of rhesus monkeys, used primarily for behavioral, demographic, genetic, and physiological research. For more information, visit http://ucm.rcm.upr.edu/cayosan.html
Common features of behavior and neurobiology suggest that fundamental advances in understanding the biology of human behavior will be furthered by uncovering the genetic basis of decision making in our primate relatives. Recent research demonstrates that specific brain chemicals, particularly the neuromodulatory transmitters dopamine and serotonin, contribute directly to decision making. Moreover, it has become increasingly clear that the expression and metabolism of these chemicals depends on the activation of genes that control fundamental aspects of neuronal signaling. Humans and several other animals exhibit a diverse set of behavioral traits related to decision making; genetics may contribute to variation in these traits. Much of this diversity can be attributed to common polymorphisms that can now be identified at relatively low expense. We have access to a large database of information about the performance of this study population of monkeys in a diverse set of decision-making tasks. We propose to collect DNA samples from these focal animals on Cayo Santiago in order to investigate how differences in decision making across individuals can be attributed to genetic variation.
- * Collect blood samples to obtain DNA from all macaques at Cayo Santiago that have associated behavioral data.
- * Select candidate genes with known polymorphisms that may contribute to variations in decision making.
- * Conduct genotyping assays to compare variation in genes and genotype with phenotypic variations in behaviors.