A baby’s smile gives a new mother a drug-like high and is equally addictive, a study of the female brain shows.
Neural scans on women help explain the extremely strong bond between mother and baby by showing how images of the infant affect the brain.
A study published in this month’s Pediatrics journal involving 28 first-time mothers shows that when a woman looks at a photo of her baby smiling, the reward centers of her brain light up.
These regions, called the substantia nigra, the striatum and the frontal lobe, are involved in emotion processing, cognition and behavioural outputs.
Lead researcher Dr. Lane Strathearn, who is based at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said these areas had also been activated in experiments associated with drug addiction.
"It may be that seeing your own baby's face is like a natural high," Strathearn said.