Baby's smile linked to mother's pleasure

July 7, 2008 4:52:33 PM PDT
The bond between mother and child is well known but not well understood.

Now researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have found that a baby's smile increases blood flow to a reward center in the mother's brain.

The study, in the journal Pediatrics, said that mothers looking at baby pictures showed a marked reaction whenever they saw their own child, especially if her baby was smiling.

Brain scans of the mothers showed activity in areas associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine, giving them a sensation of pleasure. The reaction was reduced if her child had a neutral or sad expression and was virtually absent with pictures of other babies.


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