Thursday, August 3, 2017

How humans bond: The brain chemistry revealed - NEUROSCIENCE

We’ve all seen it: moms and dads cradling their infants, cooing, smiling, widening their eyes, in a preverbal dance of expression and movement as parent and child each anticipate the other’s response, creating the life-affirming parent-child bond.

It’s an interaction known in child-development circles as “synchrony.” Northeastern psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital set out to uncover its neurobiological underpinnings.

In new research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found, for the first time, that the neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in human bonding, bringing the brain’s reward system into our understanding of how we form human attachments. The results, based on a study with 19 mother-infant pairs, have important implications for therapies addressing postpartum depression as well as disorders of the dopamine system such as Parkinson’s disease, addiction, and social dysfunction.

“The infant brain is very different from the mature adult brain—it is not fully formed,” says Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and author of the forthcoming book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.

“Infants are completely dependent on their caregivers. Whether they get enough to eat, the right kind of nutrients, whether they’re kept warm or cool enough, whether they’re hugged enough and get enough social attention, all these things are important to normal brain development. Our study shows clearly that a biological process in one person’s brain, the mother’s, is linked to behavior that gives the child the social input that will help wire his or her brain normally. That means parents’ ability to keep their infants cared for leads to optimal brain development, which over the years results in better adult health and greater productivity.”

Source & further reading:

Journal article:

Source: Corina Marinescu

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