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Monkey See, Monkey Do: Contagious Itch in Nonhuman Primates
”Contagious itch” has been anecdotally reported and recently confirmed in a controlled setting in humans. Here, we investigated in adult rhesus macaques whether ‘contagious itch’ occurs spontaneously in monkeys. In a first experiment, the latency to scratch following cage-mate scratching was observed in pair-housed adult rhesus macaques. Scratching increased within the first 60 s and subsequently declined. In a second experiment, scratching behavior was recorded for individually caged adult rhesus macaques which where shown videos of monkeys scratching, but also neutral stimuli. A greater frequency of scratching was observed when monkeys viewed a video sequence of another monkey scratching as well as during the neutral stimulus immediately following the monkey scratching segment. In conclusion, viewing other monkeys scratching significantly increased scratching behavior in adult rhesus macaques.
Ashley N. Feneran, Russell O'Donnell, Ashley Press, Gil Yosipovitch, Mark Cline, Greg Dugan, Alexandru D.P. Papoiu, Leigh A. Nattkemper, Yiong Huak Chan, Carol A. Shively
Yosipovitch G, Greaves MW, Fleischer AB, McGlone F. Itch: Basic Mechanisms and Therapy. New York: Marcel Dekker, 2004.
Yosipovitch G, Greaves MW, Schmelz M. Itch. Lancet 2003; 361: 690–694.
Olivry T, DeBoer DJ, Favrot C, Jackson HA, Mueller RS, Nuttall T, et al. Treatment of canine atopic dermatitis: 2010 clinical practice guidelines from the International Task Force on Canine Atopic Dermatitis. Vet Dermatol 2010; 21: 233–248.
Niemeier V, Kupfer J, Gieler U. Observations during itch-inducing lecture. Dermatol Psychosom 2000; 1: 15–18.
Papoiu AD, Wang H, Coghill RC, Chan YH, Yosipovitch G. Contagious itch in humans: a study of visual ‘transmission’ of itch in atopic dermatitis and healthy subjects. Br J Dermatol 2011; 164: 1299–1303.
Altmann, J. Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behaviour 1974; 48: 227–267.
Grigg OA, Farewell VT, Spiegelhalter DJ. Use of risk-adjusted CUSUM and RSPRT charts for monitoring in medical contexts. Stat Methods Med Res 2003; 12: 147–170.
Sherrington CS. Observations on the scratch-reflex in the spinal dog. J Physiol 1906; 34: 1–50.
Yosipovitch G, Ishiuji Y, Patel TS, Hicks MI, Oshiro Y, Kraft RA, et al. The brain processing of scratching. J Invest Dermatol 2008; 128: 1806–1811.
Wood JN, Glynn DD, Hauser MD. Rhesus monkeys’ understanding of actions and goals. Soc Neurosci 2008; 3: 60–68.
Iacoboni M, Dapretto M. The mirror neuron system and the consequences of its dysfunction. Nat Rev Neurosci 2006; 7: 942–951.
Nakayama K. Observing conspecifics scratching induces a contagion of scratching in Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata). J Comp Psychol 2004; 118: 20–24.
Senju A. Developmental and comparative perspectives of contagious yawning. Front Neurol Neurosci 2010; 28: 113–119.
Millen A, Anderson JR. Neither infants nor toddlers catch yawns from their mothers. Biol Lett 2011; 7: 440–442.
Joly-Mascheroni RM, Senju A, Shepherd AJ. Dogs catch human yawns. Biol Lett 2008; 4: 446–448.
Palagi E, Leone A, Mancini G, Ferrari PF. Contagious yawning in gelada baboons as a possible expression of empathy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2009; 106: 19262–19267.
Paukner A, Anderson JR. Video-induced yawning in stumptail macaques (Macaca arctoides). Biol Lett 2006; 2: 36–38.
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Volume 93, Issue 1
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