ALIGNED RESEARCH FOCUS
Neuroendocrine mechanisms promoting positive social bonding
ORGAN SYSTEM/DISEASE FOCUS
Neuroendocrine interactions in the pituitary, hypothalamus and other areas of the social brain
Fathers who show positive involvement in their children have the potential to improve the physical and mental health of their child. The social attachment processes between a male, his mate and offspring converge to form the family system. My goal is to determine what promotes strong paternal-infant bonding. The common marmoset monkey, Callithrix jacchus, provides a model of social bonding in primates since its members are socially monogamous and cooperative breeders, as are humans. My lab has found pre-birth and post-birth changes in fathers due to olfactory signals from infants as well as from the expectant mate. Increased weight gain in expectant fathers and increased maternal-like hormones work to promote positive care of infants. Sensory cues from infants reinforce the positive infant care in males. The chemical/olfactory communication in marmosets provides an important mechanism for maintaining the bonds between individuals with their family groups. Experience with offspring has a profound effect on behavior and hormonal changes in male marmosets. Additional areas of study include social bonding in humans and other nonhuman primate species, and developing biomarkers for studies of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and implications of dietary fats in common marmosets.
May 8, 2020, Distinguished Scientist Toni Ziegler retires