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Ancestral Landscapes in Human EvolutionCulture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing$
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Darcia Narvaez, Kristin Valentino, Agustin Fuentes, James J. McKenna, and Peter Gray

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199964253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199964253.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 30 July 2021

Epigenetics of Mammalian Parenting

Epigenetics of Mammalian Parenting

(p.18) 2 Epigenetics of Mammalian Parenting
Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution

Frances A. Champagne

Oxford University Press

Parental behavior serves as a critical environmental context for developing infants. Studies of mother-infant interactions across species in mammals suggest that the tactile stimulation received by infants has a significant impact on neuroendocrine and behavioral development. Recent advances in molecular biology suggest that epigenetic mechanisms—factors that can change the activity of genes without altering the DNA sequence—may be triggered by early life experiences and account for the persistent effects of these experiences. In this chapter, evidence supporting the hypothesis that maternal touch induces long-term effects on brain development is presented and emerging evidence for the involvement of epigenetic pathways in these effects is highlighted. The epigenetic effects of maternal care may have implications for future generations and for the adaptiveness of offspring to their environment. Further exploration of these epigenetic pathways in humans may contribute to our growing understanding of the biological embedding of early life experiences.

Keywords:   maternal, tactile, DNA methylation, epigenetic, deprivation

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