Have you ever heard a new mother say that her baby is so beautiful that she is "eating"? Well, it's all normal: according to a research team of Canadian scientists it would be a physiological response of the mother's brain to the typical smell of newborns.
Maternal satisfaction. According to Johannes Frasnelli, a psychologist at the University of Montreal and co-author of a study a few years ago, the smell of babies would activate the neural circuits of reward in mothers, the same ones that are stimulated after a good meal or other forms of satisfaction . Frasnelli and his colleagues monitored two groups of 15 women, the first consisting of mothers who had given birth in the previous six weeks, the second by women without children. The researchers let the volunteers take in pajamas worn by two-day-old children and observed their brain's response by magnetic resonance imaging.
Scent of reward. The smell of the little ones "turned on" in the test participants an area of the brain called the caudate nucleus linked to the mechanisms of learning and reward.
In new mothers the activity was more intense, in particular in the dopamine receptor system, a neurotransmitter linked to the perception of pleasure and satisfaction. In short, it seems that the smell of a child acts as a reinforcement mechanism, triggering particularly pleasant sensations in the mother's brain, which in turn push the woman to feed her baby and take care of her.
What is not yet clear is what favors the greater sensitivity to baby odor in new mothers: according to some researchers, it could be the hormonal changes that the woman encounters immediately after giving birth, while for others the experience could play a decisive role.
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