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WHY MOTHERS WANT TO EAT THEIR BABIES

WHY MOTHERS WANT TO EAT THEIR BABIES

Have you ever wondered why zombies devour the flesh of their victims? What is it about a virus that could turn someone into a cannibal almost instantly? Well, a recent scientific study may shed some light on how certain smells can actually rewire our brains. By testing the reactions of women to the odors of newborn infants, researchers have discovered an elicit response in the reward-related cerebral areas of the brain, regardless of their maternal status.

Surely, you’ve heard a woman exclaim that a baby is “so cute, I could just eat them up!” But what exactly drives this odd maternal instinct? Could the same impulse that regulates food cravings and addiction actually drive a mother to cannibalism?

What we have shown for the first time is that the odour of newborns, which is part of these signals, activates the neurological reward circuit in mothers. These circuits may especially be activated when you eat while being very hungry, but also in a craving addict receiving his drug. It is in fact the sating of desire.

For the experiment, two groups women were presented with the odors of newborn babies collected from their pyjamas two days after birth. Brain imaging immediately showed a dramatic rise in dopamine levels, which is often associated with sexual pleasure and other forms of gratification.

Obviously there is no epidemic of mothers actually eating their babies! But what would it take for this innocent and natural reaction to mutate and go horribly wrong? It’s often suggested that the undead will hunt using their sense of smell. Could this research lend new credence to that popular theory?

To learn more about this scientific study you can read the original research article online at Frontiers, or visit UdeMNouvelles at the University of Montreal for additional details!

2 comments

  1. Well if that would be a useful thing for the researchers to look into.Perhaps, the newborn smell is what PREVENTS that post-partum depression, which may otherwise be inevitable.

  2. Sounds to me it’s simply that a mother feels rewarded for having the baby. A natural painkiller after the pain of childbirth, and the cause of the natural maternal bonding instinct. By feeling good when she’s with her baby, she feels more motivated to nurture and protect them.

    I don’t see why you have to read something so random into it. Eating, drugs, sex… it’s all just under the general umbrella term “pleasure.” So it’s just another “pleasure” response, which evolved with us so we’d nurture our young.

    It could be that women with post-partum depression might either not properly take in the scent (Baby was washed too much, taken away to machines for being premature, other smells interfering, baby not producing it for some reason, etc), or don’t get the pleasure response from the scent due to neurological or psychological reasons.

    THAT would be a useful thing for the researchers to look into. That perhaps, the newborn smell is what PREVENTS that post-partum depression, which may otherwise be inevitable.

    A lot more useful than insinuating infanticide, anyway. ;P

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