• corticotropin-releasing factor;
  • cortisol;
  • nonhuman primates;
  • variable foraging demand;
  • maternal;
  • infant development

Abstract: The maternal stress response may vary as a function of infant developmental phase. Using a median split, 13 bonnet macaque (M. radiata) mother–infant dyads were exposed to early initiation of variable foraging demand (VFD), a prolonged stressor, whereas 11 dyads were exposed to late VFD onset. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma samples were obtained from mothers and infants prior to and following VFD. Increases in maternal CSF corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) concentrations were evident in response to late, but not early, VFD. Mothers exhibited either increased or decreased cortisol concentrations in response to VFD. However, absolute cortisol change was greater in early versus late VFD. Timing of the VFD stressor differentially affects maternal neuroendocrine response, with potential implications for the offspring's developmental trajectory.