What woman has not wanted to gobble up a baby placed in her arms, even if the baby is not hers?
This reaction, which everyone has noticed or felt, could have biological underpinnings related to maternal functions.
For the first time, an international team of researchers has found evidence of this phenomenon in the neural networks associated with reward.
“The olfactory—thus non-verbal and non-visual—chemical signals for communication between mother and child are intense,” explains Johannes Frasnelli, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology.
“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.”
To come to their conclusion, researchers had two groups of 15 women smell the odor of others’ newborns while subjected to brain imaging tests.
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