Friday, March 21, 2008

How babies make it easy

It’s always great to be proved right by a scientist. So here’s to Morten Kringelbach, a Senior Research Fellow in Psychiatry at Oxford University who has proved what anyone who has ever held a baby already knows: babies are hard wired into our hearts.

My recent re-introduction to the art of holding a baby and speaking in that strange language adults save for the small was an instant delight, so Dr Kringelbach’s research was an affirmation rather than a revelation. By flashing pictures of the faces of adults and of babies for just 300 milliseconds, Kringelbach’s team recorded distinct differences in the way people responded to the two kinds of faces. And it’s not just whether we come up with baby talk or a request for a hamburger. They discovered that the physical place that is stimulated in our brain is different. When we look at adult faces, the response comes from the back of the brain; when we look at a baby’s face we respond from a part of the brain that is just over the eyeball region. Guess what part of the brain that is? You’ve got it, Sherlock. The emotional part. Morten goes on to suggest that this explains why many men prefer women with baby faces, but let’s follow him there. Maybe Morten Kringelbach has never held a baby in his arms without a stopwatch in hand. I reckon it would have taken him less than 300 milliseconds to figure it’s an emotional thing.


Susan Plunkett said...


So many women I know, once they have children, respond automatically to a new born babies cry. You see it in shopping centres. That turn of head and pause and look of maternal concern and need to go tend. :-)

I have to wonder where female desire comes in, in his whole equation...

Piotr Jakubowski said...

Fascinating how this information has been researched, though you're right. Hold a baby for a few seconds and you've figured it out already.

And people are wondering why a baby laughing has had millions of hits on YouTube.

Greg Jackson said...

Hands up who realised when first they held their firstborn that they had only then learnt what total love is?

Anonymous said...

I honestly didn't believe that there would ever be a subject posted here that would intrigue me enough to make the time to respond but you've finally done that!

Several years ago, to defer the time when my family would be split up for Christmas, we went to visit a daughter who works at an orphanage for abandoned babies in RSA (South Africa) and I was truly broken by the experience. I was deeply moved the chance to hug and hold newborn infants that had been abandoned.

I believe that this hardwiring is more deep rooted than most of us would ever want to admit (regardless of gender)and I'll be curious now to see if the tone of future "ramblings" continues to change :)

elle fagan said...

Thanksomuch, as usual, Kevin Roberts!

I'm not quite a Grandmother yet, but love
tuning-in to "Spring Lambies"!

Somehow, at this time of year, I respond specially to the new babies at my church and in social situations.

You used the word "Delight" and I think that says it, where babies are concerned.

My question:
Why are we quick to share the negative, and more shy to experience and share delight...when the world needs, certainly,
more of the true things that improve our very will to live?

We cannot all find a baby to hold, but we can ALL
Celebrate spring! Experience Delight! Make and share Delight!

Like "Lovemarks"....

elle fagan

wolf bosse said...

interesting. and having experienced my two young doughters and their cries I now understand why a penguin will localize its babies voice out of hundreds of others. you can have the house falling to pieces and sleep tight. and a little tiny voice from across the house will wake you immediately.