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The role of maternal care in mediating offspring behavioural development

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In mammals the quality of maternal care received by infants can have a profound influence upon how they behave when adults. Much empirical work has focused on deteriorations in the quality of this intimate relationship, detailing how offspring behave when things go wrong. However, following close observations it is possible to study natural variation in maternal behaviour and how subtle differences impact upon the behavioural development of infants. I shall discuss recent work that has investigated this in rodents. Furthermore, I shall propose that through epigenetic mechanisms, the quality of this mother-infant relationship may not only have consequences for how an individual behaves when adult, but may also have an impact on the behaviour of future generations.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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