George, Ian Douglas, U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO - To aid research on 'Mapping the Cerebrocerebellar Language Network and its Role in Human Neuroevolution,' supervised by Dr. Kristina Aldridge
IAN D. GEORGE, then a graduate student at University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, was awarded a grant in October 2013 to aid research on 'Mapping the Cerebrocerebellar Language Network and its Role in Human Neuroevolution,' supervised by Dr. Kristina Aldridge. Language is arguably the key factor that has influenced the evolution of the human brain. Previous research on endocasts, our only direct evidence of the brains of human ancestors, has revealed a disproportionate increase in size of the cerebellum relative to the cerebrum. Recent neurological findings indicate that the cerebellum plays a role in modulating language through neural connections to the cerebrum. Our research has mapped the connectivity among the cerebellum and language areas in the cerebrum through a specialized form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and verified that the cerebellum is a key component of the language network in the human brain. When compared with behavioral measures of language we found significant correlations between connectivity in the language-specific cerebrocerebellar network (LSCN) and language production. This research provides critical data on how much can be known about language from the study of fossil brain endocasts by testing the assumption that brain structure, specifically in the LSCN, correlates with language ability. We are now able to test the hypothesis that these same suites of features are reliably reproduced on endocasts. This evidence is essential for making predictions about the behavior of fossil hominin ancestors from endocast data.
Kaestle, Dr. Frederika A., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN; and Ribeiro-Dos-Santos, Andrea, U. Federal do Para, Belem, Brazil - To aid collaborative research on 'mtDNA in Brazilian Prehistoric Groups of the Last 12,000 Years'
Miller, Dr. Elizabeth Marie, U. of South Florida, Tampa, FL - To aid research on 'Ecology of the Human Milk and Infant Salivary Microbiomes'
Preliminary abstract: Biological anthropologists hypothesize that early life microbial exposures are critical for the development of the immune system, with the evolved flexibility of the human immune response helping acclimate infants to their unique environment. One major pathway to exposure is via mothers' milk, which passes microbes to infants via breast milk in a dynamic, co-influential system. I propose to study the human milk and infant salivary microbiome of breastfeeding Kenyan mother-infant pairs, by 1) characterizing milk and infant salivary microbiomes, 2) exploring relationships between milk and infant salivary microbiomes to determine how much they influence each other, 3) determining which ecological factors are associated with these microbiomes, and 4) how the immune system of mother's milk and infant saliva interacts with their respective microbiomes. Milk and saliva samples previously collected from a rural Kenyan population will be sequenced for operational taxonomic units and relative abundance of microbial communities using 16s RNA techniques, and analyzed statistically using taxonomically appropriate methods. I predict a core microbiome will be identifiable in the milk and saliva that is distinct from previously documented US populations, that there will be an association between maternal milk and infant saliva microbiomes, and that immunological and ecological factors such as culturally-appropriate foods and maternal-infant behaviors will influence microbiome diversity. This research contributes to anthropological scholarship by overturning widely held beliefs that infants are receptacles for the 'passive' immunity of mothers' milk, and by using the maternal-infant microbiome as a lens through which larger cultural and ecological patterns may be observed.
Valeggia, Dr. Claudia Rita, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Life History Transitions among the Toba of Argentina'
DR. CLAUDIA R. VALEGGIA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Life History Transitions among the Toba of Argentina.' The study is part of a five-year, longitudinal project that evaluates the interaction among biocultural variables underlying key life transitions in humans. The project takes place in an indigenous population in northern Argentina. Biological and ethnographic data are collected to evaluate the somatic, developmental, cultural, and hormonal correlates of three life history transitions: weaning, puberty, and menopause. This particular study focused on the hormonal changes associated with the peri-menopausal transition and on the association between infant growth trajectories and infectious disease. Preliminary results show differences between levels of ovarian hormones, FSHB, and adiponectin between pre- and post-menopausal women. Menopausal Toba women had higher levels of FSHB and adiponectin than menopausal non-indigenous women. Toba infants with reports of sickness had slower growth trajectories than infants with no reports of sickness. Fever, GI infections, bronchitis, and flu during first nine months were negatively correlated with length velocity. Additionally, fever, cold, and flu during the first three months were negatively correlated with weight velocity. Results from this research will contribute directly to issues of evolutionary anthropology, the biodemography of aging, and clinical medicine, as they relate specifically to patterns of child growth and women's aging.
DeCaro, Jason A., Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'The Social Ecology of Childhood Stress: Reactivity and Family Function in North Central Georgia, U.S.A.' supervised by Dr. Carol M. Worthman
JASON A. DECARO, while a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, was awarded a grant in November 2001 to aid research on the social ecology of childhood stress in north-central Georgia, U.S.A., under the supervision of Dr. Carol M. Worthman. DeCaro's research was designed to evaluate whether children's reactivity (physiological response to stress or arousal) during the transition from preschool to kindergarten was related to their parents' economic security; whether the 'routinization' of family life and stability in the social ecology of the home predicted children's reactivity during this transition; and whether the stability of children's social environment and their reactivity predicted functional outcomes. Ethnographic interviews with parents in forty-five metropolitan Atlanta families focused on work, finances, economic security, time management, and school and neighborhood choices and satisfaction. Prior to and following the transition into kindergarten, DeCaro collected saliva samples from children and parents three times a day for seven days, in order to test for levels of cortisol, a hormone of physiologic arousal. He also monitored children's heart rates during a puppet-based psychobehavioral interview. Parents were asked to track on hand computers their and their children moods, contexts, and experiences for seven days. Questionnaires covered children's behavioral and somatic symptomatology and preschool educational outcomes. Preliminary analysis suggested that cardiovascular response during a mild social challenge predicted the density of parents' schedules but that mothers' and fathers' types of 'busyness' had different effects on household ecology and on children's responses to experience. The study was expected to provide insights into the cultural construction of the 'work' of the family, which profoundly affects both the actual form and the perception of family life by family members and thus what precisely is 'stressful' about it.
DeCaro, Jason A. and Carol M. Worthman. 2006 Cultural Models, Parent Behavior, and Young Child Experience in Working American Families. Parenting: Science and Practice 7(2): 177-203.
Gettler, Dr. Lee Thomas, U. of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN - To aid research and writing on 'Shaping Fatherhood: The Role of Cultural Institutions, Development, & Biological Variation in Cross-Generational Parenting Patterns' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: In Cebu (Philippines), fathers have recently increased their involvement in childcare, i.e. contemporary fathers perform more caregiving than did their fathers. This shift might relate to political economic forces that affected labor and migration. Framed in this context, my analyses here focus on human genetic variation, testosterone (T), and multiple generations of familial caregiving and demographic data from Cebu. I will explore how neuroendocrine pathways (related to the biology of fatherhood) are shaped through both early life experiences of caregiving as well as inherited genetic traits. Based on the observation that those neuroendocrine pathways can help mediate new expressions of adult behavior, I will assess the effects of these early life experiences on men's later behavior and biology as parents. I will interlace physiology, social interactions, and political economy, to understand the niches in which behavioral patterns are maintained or shifted across generations. I will produce articles that will test: (a) how between-father genetic variation affects their T responses to fatherhood; (b) how political economic factors affect the investments of alloparental caregivers, with downstream impacts on fathers' caregiving and hormonal profiles; and (c) how the involvement of men's fathers in childcare affects their own caregiving and T responses to parenthood.
Klein, Laura Danielle, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Impacts of Maternal Disease Ecology on Milk Immunofactors and Infant Immune System Development,' supervised by Dr. Katherine J. Hinde
Preliminary abstract: Mothers' milk provides crucial immunological protection to the infant during early life. However, little is known about how the immune molecules that are present in milk vary among women living in vastly different nutritional, disease, and cultural ecologies. This project will use a longitudinal study in a population of small-scale agriculturalists at the Mogielica Human Ecology Study Site in southern Poland to investigate how aspects of the local environment, including diet and disease exposure, relate to the variation in composition of immune factors in breast milk within a population. This project will also examine how variation in mothers' milk might influence infant immune system development by taking advantage of a regularly schedule vaccine that mimics a natural immune challenge.
Nelson, Dr. Robin Gair, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY - To aid research on 'Residential Context, Non-Kin Care and Child Health Outcomes in Jamaica'
DR. ROBIN G. NELSON, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2011 to aid research on 'Residential Context, Non-Kin Care and Child Health Outcomes in Jamaica.' This study explores the relationship between residential context, parental investment, and child health outcomes in Jamaica. It centers on an examination of the growth and development of children living in state-sponsored homes, and children who are living with biological family members. Ethnographic, anthropometric, and biometric data were collected from 125 children living in state-sponsored children's homes, and 119 children living with their biological family members in Manchester Parish. Follow-up data were collected from 70 of 125 children who were still living in childcare facilities. Preliminary analyses reveal statistically significant correlations between residence in a state-sponsored care setting and anthropometric health indicators. There are also statistically significant gendered differences in the health outcomes between girls and boys living in these state-sponsored homes. These findings parallel ethnographic data detailing highly variable and gendered childcare practices in these homes. Future analyses will compare anthropometric and biometric data of children living with biological kin, and that of their peers living in the children's homes. These findings aid in our understanding of the ways that variability in kin investment and care setting come to correlate to particular health outcomes. This study navigates the intersection of evolutionary theory and biocultural studies of child care practices and health outcomes.
Valeggia, Dr. Claudia R., CONICET, Formosa, Argentina - To aid research on 'Fertility Patterns and Energy Availability of Foraging Wichi in the Argentine Chaco'
DR. CLAUDIA R. VALEGGIA, CONICET, Formosa, Argentina, was awarding a grant in May 2003 to aid research on 'Fertility Patterns and Energy Availability of Foraging Wichi in the Argentine Chaco.' This study was part of the Chaco Area Reproductive Ecology Program, a long-term project that seeks to understand the interactions between environment, behavior, and reproductive biology of foraging groups in the Argentine Chaco. The aim of the study was to collect baseline data on how demographic and fertility patterns of Wichí people (n = 800) relate to changes in seasonal variation in energy availability and foraging practices. Preliminary results indicate a high fertility rate (8.6 births per woman), a relatively short inter-birth interval (average: 2.3 months 3.6) and a high infant mortality rate (46%). A birth seasonality effect was evident, with conceptions taking place between April and July. The Wichí of these communities were in good nutritional status, only 2% of adults (all women) were considered undernourished. Furthermore, there was a considerable percentage of overweight and obesity. As many as 55% of men and 54% of women were overweight (Body Mass Index > 25), whereas 17% of both men and women were obese (BMI >30). There were no apparent differences in energy availability across the annual cycle. However, there was considerable seasonal variation in the frequency and type of subsistence activities and in diet composition. A marked sexual division of activities was also evident and that seems to explain the differences in energy availability between women and men. Further analyses will explore the interaction between seasonality, division of labor, and fertility.
DeCaro, Dr. Jason A., U. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL - To aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation'
DR. JASON A. DeCARO, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was awarded funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation.' Rising global obesity rates, and the historically limited effectiveness of behavioral interventions in addressing them, motivate the search for new understandings of biocultural and psychosocial determinants of physical activity. Physical activity occurs as a constituent of broader daily routines that are culturally constructed, complexly motivated, and socially constrained. Hence, daily routines may be viewed as a mechanism through which culture is progressively embodied across the life course, with body size and composition among the outcomes. In West Alabama, interviews, detailed daily activity diaries, 24-hour 5-day actigraphy (accelerometry), and BMI/body composition measurements were undertaken with 37 Mexican/Mexican-American young adults, including both recent non-student immigrants and college students. High agreement across subgroups regarding ideals for leisure-time physical activity intersect with profound intergroup and gender variation in beliefs and practices regarding the integration of physical activity into daily life. Further, the social context of physical activity moderates its relation to body size and composition. By combining biological, cultural, and behavioral data, it is possible to open new windows into embodiment as a biocultural process.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Return to School Accompanied by Changing Associations between Family Ecology and Cortisol. Developmental Psychobiology 50(2):183-195.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Culture and the Socialization of Child Cardiovascular Regulation at School Entry in the US. American Journal of Human Biology. 20(5):572-583.
De Caro, Jason. 2011. Changing Family Routines at Kindergarten Entry Predict Biomarkers of Parental Stress. International Journal of Behavioral Development 35(5):441-448.
DeCaro, Jason. 2012. Investigating the Social Ecology of Daily Experience Using Computerized Structured Diaries: Physical Activity among Mexican American Young Adults. Field Methods 24(3):328-347.