New mother’s brain response to newborn baby’s facial signals correlates with new study mother-child bond. Mothers who exhibit increased brain activity in response to facial signals from their infants would build stronger bonds with their babies compared to mothers without this sensitivity.
Conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and Liverpool University, the study, which will be published in the journal Child Development, was conducted with 39 pregnant women aged 22 to 39. Participants visited the laboratories twice: once in the 3rd trimester, and a second time five months after delivery. During these visits, the volunteers participated in a task during which their brain activity was measured by an electroencephalogram. The women viewed 4 blocks of 40 faces of children and adults, sometimes happy, sometimes sad. The participants also indicated whether or not they were suffering from depression or anxiety, and detailed the link they forged with their baby.
The study highlighted the following observations:
- an increase in brain responses to the faces of infants presented in prenatal and postnatal care was associated with more positive relationships with the baby after birth;
- the changes in the cerebral cortex of the mothers reflected automatic rather than deliberate processes ;
- the cortical changes observed did not depend on the processes used to present the faces.
“Our results support the idea that in the brain responses to signals from infants change during pregnancy and early motherhood, some mothers showing more marked changes than others”Said David Haley, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, co-author of the study. “This variation is in turn associated with what mothers have told us about their emotional bond with their baby.Added the researcher. The transition from pregnancy to motherhood is a period of plasticity (or remodeling) of the cerebral cortex, which manifests in some mothers by greater attention to baby’s facial expressions and a stronger mother-child bond.
A study that provides a better understanding of mother-child relationships and that could lead to new care for help mothers better connect to their newborn.
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