Laterality in mother-infant interactions

13 01 2017

A cool paper came out in new journal Nature Ecology & Evolution this week. Just as human mothers tend to hold their babies to their left, in order to monitor them with their left visual fields, so too altricial infants and older juveniles across a range of species — unlike babies, able to position themselves with respect to their mothers — like to have their mums to the left. These preferences are not entirely compatible, as you can imagine, but at least in some species (e.g. horses), in stressful situations the mother wins out and positions her infant back over to her left hand side.

A nice write-up of the piece is in New Scientist here. And a story on apes cradling their babies to the left was actually one of the first articles I ever wrote for New Scientist, a looooong time ago. I free-lanced for them sometimes as a student: it paid handsomely, and came with robust training from the brilliant Marcus Chown, the then sector editor (“This opening line is SOOOO boring!” being typical feedback).