Abstract # 6274 Event # 240:

Scheduled for Saturday, June 20, 2015 11:30 AM-11:45 AM: (Cascade F) Oral Presentation


FIELD RESEARCH AS CAREER CONFIRMATION: INVESTIGATIONS OF THE BEHAVIORAL BIOLOGY OF LACTATION INFLUENCED BY THE TINJIL ISLAND NATURAL HABITAT BREEDING FACILITY.

K. Hinde
Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge , MA 02138, USA
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     The maternal environment, physiological during fetal life and behavioral during infancy, has well-established influences on infant development. However among mammals physiological investment in the form of mother’s milk continues post-natally but remains poorly understood. Although mother’s milk fundamentally frames the infant’s nutritional ecology and socioendocrinology, until recently very little research effort has been allocated to understanding the behavioral biology of mother’s milk and infant outcomes from an evolutionary perspective. Here I will present emerging research from my Comparative Lactation Lab that addresses the magnitude, sources, and consequences of inter-individual variation of milk bioactives in humans, monkeys, and other mammals. Just as individuals vary in their “mothering style,” the fats, proteins, sugars, minerals, hormones, bacteria, and other constituents in mother’s milk vary substantially. That inter-individual variation is associated with differences in infant behavior and growth. For example, milk not only builds the infant’s body, but fuels the infant’s behavioral activity. Moreover, the biological “recipe” of milk can differ by infant sex and the critical windows for maternal effects differ between sons and daughters, likely reflecting sex-differentiated developmental priorities and sensitivities. A better understanding of variation in milk composition enhances an evolutionary biological perspective of parent-offspring dynamics. Participation in the cultural exchange and field research on Tinjil Island in 2001 was instrumental in my motivation and enthusiasm for a career as a primatologist.