The effects of emotional stimuli and oxytocin on inhibition ability and response execution in macaque monkeys

Marzieh Mowlavi Vardanjani, Sadegh Ghasemian, Vahid Sheibani, Farshad A. Mansouri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Social and emotional content of environmental stimuli influence executive control of behavior. There has been a great variability in the behavioral effects of emotional stimuli in humans. These variabilities might arise from other contextual factors, such as specific task demands or natural hormones, which potentially interact with emotional stimuli in modulating executive functions. This study aimed at examining the effects of social-emotional visual stimuli and a natural hormone (oxytocin) on inhibition ability and response execution of macaque monkeys. In a crossover design, monkeys received inhaled oxytocin or its vehicle before performing a stop-signal task in which they must respond rapidly to a visual go-cue in Go trials but inhibit the initiated response following the onset of a stop-cue in Stop trials. The social-emotional content (negative, positive or neutral) of the go-cue was changed trial-by-trial. We found that monkeys’ inhibition ability was significantly influenced by the social-emotional content of stimuli and appeared as an enhanced inhibition ability when monkeys were exposed to negative stimuli. However, response execution was not influenced by the emotional content of stimuli in the current or preceding trials. The same dose of oxytocin, which modulated working memory in monkeys, had no significant effect on the inhibition ability, but significantly decreased monkeys’ response time regardless of the stimulus valence. Our findings indicate that emotional stimuli, valence dependently, influence monkeys’ inhibition ability but not their response execution and suggest that oxytocin might attenuate reorientation of cognitive resources to the task irrelevant emotional information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113409
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2021


  • Executive control
  • Macaque monkeys
  • Negative emotion
  • Oxytocin
  • Response inhibition

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