Science Figures Out Why We Want To Sink Our Teeth Into Cute Babies
Sep 25, 2013 11:21
Don't worry, we're not promoting baby cannibalism. This has to do with the feeling some women get when they see a newborn infants, which makes them say crazy things like: "You are so cute, lil' bub; look at those sausage arms! I just want to gobble them up!"
According to a new study, this reaction is caused by the scent that newborn babies have. This scent triggers the reward circuit in women's brains, causing them to feel joy in the presence of little ones.
Odor taken from the pajamas of unfamiliar 2-day-old infants was presented to two groups of 15 women. One group
comprised of women who had given birth 3 - 6 weeks prior to the
experiment; while the other group was made up of women who'd never given birth.
Brain scans showed that while both groups perceived the baby aroma with the same intensity, the caudate nucleus (which is the
brain's reward center) was found to be more active among new mothers.
The olfactory—thus non-verbal and non-visual—chemical signals for communication between mother and child are intense. What we have shown for the first time is that the odour of newborns, which is part of these signals, activates the neurological reward circuit in mothers. These circuits may especially be activated when you eat while being very hungry, but also in a craving addict receiving his drug. It is in fact the sating of desire.
Thankfully, the researchers hypothesize
that this response was evolved to encourage mothers to feed
and protect their kids, and not to eat them. Although when you really think about it, it's pretty freaky to imagine your mom fighting the urge to munch on your chubby baby folds.
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