Research Involving Anxiety in Nonhuman Primates Has Potential Implications for the Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorder


The purpose of this translational review (i.e., moving from basic primate research toward possible human applications) was to summarize nonhuman primate literature on anxiety to inform the development of future assessments of anxiety in nonverbal individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Systematic searches of databases identified 67 studies that met inclusion criteria. Each study was analysed and summarised in terms of (a) strategies used to evoke anxiety, (b) nonverbal behavioural indicators of anxiety and (c) physiological indicators of anxiety. Eighteen strategies used to evoke anxiety, 48 nonverbal behavioral indicators, and 17 physiological indicators of anxiety were measured. A number of the strategies used with nonhuman primates, if modified carefully, could be considered in the ongoing effort to study anxiety in individuals with ASD. Potential applications to the assessment of anxiety in humans with ASD are discussed.


Gonzales, H. K., O’Reilly, M., Lang, R., Sigafoos, J., Lancioni, G., Kajian, M., . . . Watkins, L. (2015). Research involving anxiety in nonhuman primates has potential implications for the assessment and treatment of anxiety in autism spectrum disorder: A translational literature review. Developmental Neurorehabilitation. Advance online publication.