The marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is a small New World primate.  It has a short lifespan of about 10 years, is capable of performing complex cognitive tasks and shares with humans many features of brain aging. Our research investigates how biological sex and sex steroids modulate cognitive function, brain activity, behavior, sleep, emotional reactivity and motor function throughout the adult lifespan in males and females.

We fully adhere to the Principles for the Ethical Treatment of Nonhuman Primates from the American Society of Primatologists

Do males and females follow different trajectories of cognitive aging?
We are conducting a longitudinal study in intact marmosets followed from middle-aged to old age to determine the neural correlates of sex differences in age-related cognitive decline. The animals are assessed for cognitive function (CANTAB battery), emotional reactivity, brain activity and motor function- This work is in collaboration with Dr. Jean King (UMass Medical School), Dr. Luke Remage-Healey (UMass Amherst) and Dr. Patrick Hof (Mount Sinai School of Medicine). The findings could lead to gender-specific treatments for age-related cognitive decline
Supported by an NIH R01 to Agnès Lacreuse

Papers on this topic 

Lacreuse, A., Kim, C. B., Rosene, D. L., Killiany, R. J., Moss, M. B., Moore, T. L., . . . Herndon, J. G. (2005). Sex, age, and training modulate spatial memory in the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta). Behav Neurosci, 119(1), 118-126. 


Lacreuse, A., Diehl, M. M., Goh, M. Y., Hall, M. J., Volk, A. M., Chhabra, R. K., & Herndon, J. G. (2005). Sex differences in age-related motor slowing in the rhesus monkey: behavioral and neuroimaging data. Neurobiol Aging, 26(4), 543-551. 


LaClair, M., & Lacreuse, A. (2016). Reversal learning in gonadectomized marmosets with and without hormone replacement: are males more sensitive to punishment? Animal Cognition, 19(3), 619-630. 


Lacreuse, A., Moore, C. M., LaClair, M., Payne, L., & King, J. A. (2018). Glutamine/Glutamate (Glx) concentration in prefrontal cortex predicts reversal learning performance in the marmoset. Behav Brain Res,


Workman, K.P. Healey, B., Carlotto, A. and Lacreuse, A. (2019). One-year change in cognitive flexibility and fine motor function in middle-aged male and female marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). American Journal of Primatology, 81, 2, e22924.

LaClair M, Febo M, Nephew B, Gervais NJ, Poirier G, Workman K, Chumachenko S, Payne L, Moore MC, King JA & Lacreuse, A. (2019). Sex differences in cognitive flexibility and resting brain networks in middle-aged marmosets. eneuro:ENEURO.0154-19.2019.

Vaughan, E, Le, A, Casey, M, Workman, K & Lacreuse, A (2019). Baseline cortisol levels and social behavior differ as a function of handedness in marmosets (Callithrix jacchus).
American Journal of Primatology. e23057.

Motor test
A marmoset performs the Hill motor test where she has to retrieve marshmallows from steps of increasing difficulty
Cognitive Test
Marmoset performing on CANTAB
Monkeys are scanned annually for brain activity
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How ovarian hormones affect sleep, cognitive function and thermoregulation

We are developing a marmoset model for menopausal symptoms that will help us understand the potential relationships between sleep disturbances, hot flashes and cognitive impairment induced by estrogen loss. Our recent studies indicate that that estrogens modulate cognition, sleep quality and core body and skin temperature in the female marmoset. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Jessica Mong (University of Maryland School of Medicine) and Dr. Lynnette Sievert (UMass Amherst).  This research could help identify new treatments for the many women suffering from menopausal symptoms. Supported by an NIH R21 to Agnès Lacreuse and Jessica A. Mong

Papers on this topic

Lacreuse, A. (2006). Effects of ovarian hormones on cognitive function in nonhuman primates. Neuroscience, 138(3), 859-867.

Lacreuse, A., Chang, J., Metevier, C. M., Laclair, M., Meyer, J. S., & Ferris, C. M. (2014). Oestradiol modulation of cognition in adult female marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). J Neuroendocrinol, 26(5), 296-309.

Lacreuse, A., Mong, J. A., & Hara, Y. (2015). Neurocognitive effects of estrogens across the adult lifespan in nonhuman primates: State of knowledge and new perspectives. Horm Behav, 74, 157-166. 


Gervais, N. J., Viechweg, S. S., Mong, J. A., & Lacreuse, A. (2016). The middle-aged ovariectomized marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) as a model of menopausal symptoms: Preliminary evidence. Neuroscience, 337, 1-8.


Gervais, N. J., Mong, J. A., & Lacreuse, A. (2017). Ovarian hormones, sleep and cognition across the adult female lifespan: An integrated perspective. Front Neuroendocrinol, 47, 134-153. 

Gervais, N. J., Remage-Healey, L., Starrett, J. R., Pollak, D. J., Mong, J. A., & Lacreuse, A. (2019). Adverse effects of aromatase inhibition on the brain and behavior in a non-human primate. J Neurosci. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.0353-18.2018

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Marmosets show an age-related increase in beta amyloid deposition, tau abnormalities and dystrophic microglia in the brain, suggesting that they are a good model for studying the natural progression of AD-like neuropathology with age.  Our studies seek to identify behavioral markers of later pathology in male and female marmosets.  NIH recently supported this research by a supplemental award devoted to AD, and Dr. Emily Rothwell recently received a postdoctoral  F32 award to extend this work. She will focus on intra-individual behavioral and brain measures (locus coeruleus) to develop profiles of prodromal and clinical AD in the marmoset 

We are very grateful to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for funding our studies- 

Our aging project is currently funded by grant R01 AG046266; Dr. Emily Rothwell is funded by F32 064925. Our menopausal project by grant R21AG053841.We also thank the UMass Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) and the UMass Center for Research on Families for their support


Agnès Lacreuse, Ph.D.
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

University of Massachusetts

Morrill IV North, 639 North Pleasant St

Amherst, MA 01003

​Telephone : 413-545-2183

Email :


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