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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Light and the Rhythms of Infant Life Conference

31st March 2014, 09:00 to 17:00, To be confirmed

This is the first of two events for Light and the Rhythms of Infant life and it is an open public conference for which registration will be necessary. The conference will be of interest to health professionals working with parents and infants, and anyone with an interest in infant sleep and development. Information regarding online booking and registration fees will be available via www.dur.ac.uk/sleep.lab. Early enquiries should be sent to sleep.lab@dur.ac.uk.

The rhythm of life is driven by the presence and absence of light. Almost every living being on our planet has a biological clock that was first set ticking more than three billion years ago. During pregnancy a mother’s circadian rhythm controls that of her developing infant, but following birth human infants do not have their own fully functioning biological clock. The process of circadian rhythm maturation unfolds throughout the first year of life and can be observed in a number of infant physiological systems: hormone secretion, sleep consolidation, core-temperature patterning and clock-gene expression. Research into the development of circadian rhythms is therefore of interest to a variety of disciplines such as anthropology, biology, psychology, and health; these areas consider the phenomenon of circadian maturation from different perspectives.

The activities coordinated under the sub-theme of ‘Light and the Rhythms of Infant Life’ will provide opportunities for multidisciplinary discussion of infant circadian development across these different fields, with the aim of identifying new research directions and fostering new collaborations for progressing research and funding applications.

As circadian rhythms respond to external environmental cues (zeitgebers), the most important of which is daylight, there is growing interest in the effects of daylight variability on the development of infant circadian rhythms. Researchers who are working with populations at a range of different latitudes have been invited to participate in this sub-theme. Confirmed international speakers include: Professor Hideya Kodama and Dr Hitomi Shinohara from Akita University, Japan; Dr Shoa-Yu (Shelley) Tsai from the National Taiwan University; and Dr Megan Galbally from the University of Melbourne all of whom are actively involved in current studies of the development of light/dark driven circadian rhythms and the consolidation of sleep patterns in the first year of life.

The programme will be coordinated by Dr Alanna Rudzik, International Junior Research Fellow in Anthropology and Professor Helen Ball, Director of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab.

Contact sleep.lab@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.