NEWS ADVISORY: ‘Maternal Programming: How mothers influence the development of their offspring. Sigma Xi Science Cafe, Monday, April 12, 5 p.m. Thunderhead

Dr. William Wozniak
professor, Department of Psychology, 308.865.8242

UNK Chapter of Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society

Presents a Science Café

Monday, April 12, 2010

5 pm

Thunderhead Brewery (second floor)

18 East 21st Street
Maternal Programming: How mothers influence the development of their offspring

Dr. Rosemary Strasser, Psychology

University of Nebraska at Omaha

The presence or absence of certain hormones during prenatal development can organize the brain and influence the future behavior of offspring. Many mothers “program” the development of their offspring through the transmission of maternal steroid hormones to their young. These early maternal hormones can have long-lasting effects on the growth, development, behavior, and survival of their young. Birds are an excellent model system to study these maternal effects because the mothers naturally vary the amount of steroid hormones they deposit into their eggs and  the young develop outside the mother. In many bird species, the concentration of these maternal steroids, mostly androgens, can “organize” the brain and influence the behavior of the offspring well into adulthood. In this presentation, I will present data involving early hormonal and environmental factors that have  long-term effects in birds. With the growing popularity of hormonal treatments in various human clinical populations and the prevalence of environmental anti-androgens, it is critical to not only understand how early hormonal histories influences an individual’s current physiology and behavior but also how it might influence the phenotype of their future offspring via transgenerational maternal effects.