Researchers have confirmed what a lot of you mothers out there already know: some infants just seem programmed to need their mothers more. As this ScienCentral News video explains, scientists have found a genetic reason why some baby monkeys are more attached to mom, and that the attachment is more like an addiction.
Weaning or Withdrawal?
Bonding with mom is an important part of a monkey's development. But just like with people, some kids are easy to wean, while others cling. Now a study of monkeys links these differences in attachment to a gene that's known to be important in addiction.
Christina Barr and colleagues at the National Institute on Alcoholism & Alcohol Abuse study the mu-opioid receptor gene because it tells brain cells to make receptors that respond to opium-like molecules, including the body's natural painkillers, and other pleasure chemicals, but alsolike those in narcotics, alcohol and nicotine. Some people have a version of the gene that is much more sensitive to the rewarding effects of these chemicals than people without this version.