When a new mom gazes at her baby, it’s not just her mood that lights up - it’s also a brain region associated with emotion processing, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The study, published in the current issue of NeuroImage, explored what happens in the brain when mothers are shown pictures of their babies, as well as images of unfamiliar infants. While all the photos increased the amount of activity in a part of the brain associated with emotion, the images of the mothers’ own infants generally increased activity even more, suggesting that this brain region may be involved in maternal attachment.
Motivations for the study originated from a lack of reliable knowledge about positive emotions, says Jack Nitschke, a neuroscientist and assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at UW-Madison. "We know that depression and anxiety are not accompanied solely by an increase in negative emotions, but also by a decrease in positive ones," says Nitschke, lead author of the paper. "Yet we know much more about negative emotions than about positive emotions."
Emily Carlson | EurekAlert!
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