Smile, Baby; Smile, Mommy
Finally, a research study that will make us smile.
A baby’s smiles can lighten up a mommy’s mood. This study “What’s in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues” found that when looking at photos of happy, smiling babies, the reward centers of the mommies’ brains get triggered and the neurotransmitter dopamine is released, making mommies feel good. However, neutral or sad-looking pictures of babies did not trigger a similar positive response.
This result is based on the brain responses of 28 first-time mommies. The brain responses were tracked using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Now, this positive response to smiling baby faces does not only happen when mommy looks at the photo of her own baby. Any happy, smiling face can make any mommy happy. C’mon. Who wouldn’t be?
What’s in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues. Lane Strathearn, Jian Li, Peter Fonagy, and P. Read Montague. Pediatrics Vol. 122 No. 1 July 2008, pp. 40-51 DOI:10.1542/peds.2007-1566