Oxytocin (OT) is critical for lactation and maternal care, but OT and the related nonapeptide vasopressin are important for caregiving behaviors in fathers and alloparents as well. This experiment tested the effects of vasopressin and OT on food sharing in marmoset families. We treated caregivers (parents, siblings) with intranasal vasopressin, OT, or saline, and then paired them with the youngest marmoset in the family. Caregivers were given preferred food, and then observed for food sharing and aggressive behavior with young marmosets. OT reduced food sharing from male alloparents to youngest siblings, and fathers that received vasopressin refused to share food with their youngest offspring more often than when treated with OT. Vasopressin increased aggressive vocalizations directed toward potential food recipients in all classes of caregivers. These results indicate that vasopressin and OT do not always enhance prosocial behavior: modulation of food sharing depends on both sex and parental status.
- Food sharing
- Parental care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism