NIH brain imaging study finds evidence of basis for caregiving impulse

Infants' faces evoke species-specific patterns of brain activity in adults

Distinct patterns of activity — which may indicate a predisposition to care for infants — appear in the brains of adults who view an image of an infant face — even when the child is not theirs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Germany, Italy, and Japan. Seeing images of infant faces appeared to activate in the adult's brains circuits that reflect preparation for movement and speech as well as feelings of reward. The findings raise the possibility that studying this activity will yield insights not only into the caregiver response, but also when the response fails, such as in instances of child neglect or abuse.

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This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022