Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Baby monkeys receive signals through their mother's breast milk

03.03.2010
Signals affect babies' behavior and temperament

Among rhesus macaque monkeys, mothers who weigh more and have had previous pregnancies produce more and better breast milk for their babies than mothers who weigh less and are less experienced.

Scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of California, Davis are using this natural variation in breast milk quality and quantity to show that a mother's milk sends a reliable signal to infants about their environment. This signal may program the infant's behavior and temperament according to expectations of available resources and discourages temperaments that prove risky when food is scarce. The study was published in the American Journal of Primatology Feb. 16.

Researchers used large groups of rhesus macaques living in an outdoor enclosure at the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis. Researchers collected milk two different times from 59 mothers: once when their infants were 1 month old and again when the infants were 3 1/2 months old. They recorded the quantity of milk produced by each mother, and the energy value of each one's milk was analyzed for its content of sugars, proteins and fat. These figures were combined to calculate the available milk energy generated by each mother.

Although all of the monkeys in the study were fed the same diet, the researchers found natural variation in the quantity and richness of the milk generated by the 59 mothers. Milk from mothers who weighed more and had had previous pregnancies contained higher available energy when their infants were 1 month old than the milk of lighter, less experienced mothers.

"This is the first study for any mammal that presents evidence that natural variation in available milk energy from the mother is associated with later variation in infant behavior and temperament," said Katie Hinde, the study's lead author and anthropologist at the California National Primate Research Center and the nutrition laboratory at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. "Our results suggest that the milk energy available soon after birth may be a nutritional cue that calibrates the infant's behavior to environmental or maternal conditions."

At 3 to 4 months old, each infant was temporarily separated from its mother and assessed according to its behavior and temperament. The study found that infants whose mothers had higher levels of milk energy soon after their birth coped more effectively (moved around more, explored more, ate and drank) and showed greater confidence (were more playful, curious and active). Infants whose mothers had lower milk energy had lower activity levels and were less confident when separated from their mother. Mothers and infants were reunited immediately after the experiment.

Rhesus macaques are found throughout mainland Asia: from Afghanistan to India and from Thailand to southern China. A free-ranging colony of rhesus macaques was established in 1938 on Cayo Santiago—a small island off of the east coast of Puerto Rico. The only primates with a broader geographic distribution than rhesus macaques are humans.

To learn more about this and other Smithsonian research visit: http://smithsonianscience.org/

John Gibbons | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.si.edu
http://smithsonianscience.org/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>