Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) displaying self-injurious behavior show more sleep disruption than controls

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Lauren L. Stanwicks, Amanda F. Hamel, Melinda A. Novak
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
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Self-injurious behavior (SIB) is a pathology observed in both humans and animals. In humans, SIB has been linked to various mental health conditions that are also associated with significant sleep disruption. In rhesus macaques, SIB consists of self-directed biting which can range from mild skin abrasions to wounds requiring veterinary care. However, only one study suggests possible sleep disruption in macaques with SIB. We evaluated sleep disruption using a non-invasive system (infra-red camera and a video surveillance program) which created videos for every movement over the nighttime hours. Nighttime activity was examined in 13 macaques (three females) of which six were classified as having SIB (one female). Each monkey was studied for a total of 6 nights spanning a period of 4 months. Measures included total movement time (TMT), time moving in the first hour (HR1), time moving in the last hour (HR11), and number of videos < 10 s, ≥ 10 s, and ≥ 30 s in length. Overall, SIB monkeys had higher TMT (p < 0.01), higher HR1 (p < 0.001), and generated more videos ≥ 10 s (p < 0.01) and ≥ 30 s (p < 0.01). Thus, SIB monkeys showed significant sleep disruption. A four-fold difference between SIB and control monkeys in the ≥ 30 s videos revealed many more significant awakenings in the SIB group. Overall higher nighttime activity, in the first hour but not in the last hour, is consistent with sleep-onset insomnia in humans. Whether increased nighttime activity contributes to the SIB condition during the day or, conversely, SIB causes higher nighttime activity remains undetermined.


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