Abstract # 1005 Event # 146:

Scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2005 04:45 PM-05:00 PM: Session 13 (Parliament Room) Oral Presentation


THE ROLE OF SOCIAL INTERACTION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF FOOD PREFERENCES IN INFANT CAPTIVE COMMON MARMOSETS (Callithrix jacchus)

R. E. Almond1,2, Y. C. Van Bergen2 and G. R. Brown3
1University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Psychology, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA, 2Sub-Dept Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, Madingley, CB3 8AA, UK, 3School of Psychology, University of St. Andrews, South Street, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9JP, UK.
line
     Adult-infant food sharing is common in callitrichids, but it is unknown whether it influences infant feeding behavior. We investigated whether social interaction affected dietary preferences of infant marmosets. Isolated infants were presented with a choice between two novel foods before and after experiencing one of them in a social context. In Experiment 1, 7 month old infants (n = 12) observed a parent eating a novel food without physical contact. Infants watched parents eat and spent significantly more time observing when parents made feeding vocalizations than when they did not (paired t-test: P < 0.05). However, their subsequent feeding behavior was unchanged. For Experiment 2, infants aged 2, 4, and 7 months physically shared the food with their family group in their home-cage. Two month old infants (n = 4) didn’t eat either food when isolated, and remained neophobic after sharing the food. Four month old infants (n = 4) were also initially neophobic, however following sharing, all individuals overwhelmingly preferred the shared food (mean proportion of time eating shared food pre-sharing = 0.0; post-sharing = 0.98 ± 0.03; paired t-test: P < 0.05). Seven month old infants (n = 6) readily tried both foods and their initial preference was unchanged (mean proportion of time eating shared food pre-sharing = 0.4 ± 0.47; post-sharing = 0.6 ± 0.4). We conclude that physically sharing food can result in the development of infant feeding preferences, but its influence changes as the infants become independent foragers. Supported by the UK Medical Research Council.