The baby schema felt to be cute contains a series of child-like physical features, e.g. a large head with a high forehead, round cheeks and big eyes. Numerous behavioural studies have confirmed the effect of the baby schema on adults.
For example, a team of researchers led by Melanie Glocker from the Institute of Neural and Behavioural Biology at the University of Münster already showed just recently that children who correspond more strongly to the baby schema increase a willingness to show caretaking behaviour. This reaction is stronger in women than in men, even though both sexes perceive the cuteness equally.
However, not much was known hitherto about the neuro-biological basis of this fundamental social instinct which could be the basis for caretaking and altruistic behaviour. In collaboration with a team of colleagues from Pennsylvania led by Prof. Ruben Gur, the Münster neuroscientists Melanie Glocker and Prof. Norbert Sachser have shown in a new study for the first time what goes on in the brain as a reaction to the baby schema. "The results," says Glocker, "give an insight into the biological basis for caretaking behaviour by human beings. They provide a neurophysiological explanation for our impulse to look after anything resembling a baby."
For the study, Glocker manipulated baby photos with a special image editing programme which produced, in addition to the original photo, portraits with lower and higher baby schema values. For example, the same baby was given bigger or smaller eyes or a round or narrow face. Women who had not had children themselves looked at these children's faces, and their brain activity was measured with the aid of functional magnetic resonance imaging.
As the baby schema content increased, the researchers discovered a corresponding increase in activity in the nucleus accumbens, which is a region of the brain already known as a reward centre and which mediates motivated behaviour seeking reward, triggers feelings of happiness and plays a role in drug addiction, among other things. In addition, further regions of the brain react to the baby schema, including areas involved in the processing of faces and in attention. The researchers assume that similar processes could take place in men's brains.
"Activating the reward centre could represent the neurophysiological mechanism by which the baby schema motivates caretaking behaviour," says Glocker, "irrespective of the degree of kinship between child and beholder."
reference: Glocker et al. (2009) - Baby schema modulates the brain reward system in nulliparous women. Published online before print May 18, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811620106
Dr. Christina Heimken | idw
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine