Sarah E. Hill
Department of Psychology, Texas Christian University
A growing body of research finds that the activities of the immune system – in addition to protecting the body from infection and injury – also influence how we think, feel, and behave. Although research on the relationship between the immune system and psychological and behavioral outcomes has most commonly focused on the experiences of those who are acutely ill (i.e., sickness behavior), theory and research in the evolutionary sciences suggests that the immune system may also play a key role in modulating condition-dependent behavioral strategies. In this presentation, I will go over recent research that suggests that inflammation – a key component of the immune response to pathogens and stressors – may play an important modulatory role in shaping emotions, motivation, cognition, and behavior, even among those without symptoms of acute illness. I close by discussing potential opportunities for integrating psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) into evolutionary approaches to human behavior.