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The Reward Centre
If you look into the left column on what I am reading, you will see a book called "The Mommy Brain". You will probably think it is one of those cheeky chick lit confessional books that bitches about always being the one who packs the diaper bag and makes the cupcakes for the birthday party. Mercifully, I do not read those types of books.

The full title, actually, is "The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes You Smarter", and it is full of all these scientific studies and observations on how our brains change during pregnancy and motherhood.

It explains the ditziness you feel while pregnant (your brain does shrink 7%, but snaps back again six months later), the OCD-like behaviour of the first few weeks, the huge synaptical leaps your brain makes as it learns to process child care, and the reason mothers are the first to get out of bed when the baby cries. It also cites studies with rodents, including ones where mothers consistently out-perform "virgin" rodents in hunting and mazes. I won't bore you with the details, but I have had so many "a-ha!" moments while reading it, I thought I would share.

You see, Gabriel has been getting super-mobile lately. If I look away for a moment, he is sailing kamakaze off the bed, bonking his head on a corner, putting a penny in his mouth like a lozenge...you get the picture.

But I have noticed the oddest thing: Instead of freaking out when he falls (but does not injure himself in any serious way), I feel warm. I was trying to explain this bizarre feeling to kiff, because it is so totally strange to not feel sympathy pain or panic when G. is crying, but to feel kind of...calm and warm.

Which brings me to the a-ha moment: In the book, I read of this study that says that mother rats and other mammals get feedback from their reward centres of the brain when their baby cries. Which is why a baby crying is not the same awful sound for a parent as a non-parent. When our babies need us in a non-life-threatening way, we are flooded with oxytocin, a feeling of love, rather than panic.

I like me some good neuroscience.



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10.29.2007
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post #1333
bio: adina
perma-link
10/29/2007
11:35

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