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Women's brains programmed to react to infant cries

Study looks at male-female cerebral activity to baby needs

Women's brains programmed to react to infant cries

Rome, May 7 - The female brain is programmed to react to infant cries even when in a relaxed state, said a recent study by Italian researchers published in May's NeuroReport magazine. Researchers Gianluca Esposito of the Riken Brain Science Institute in Japan and Nicola de Pisapia from the University of Trento used neuroimaging scans to study the effects of infant hunger cries on the brain activity of adult men and women who were in a cognitively non-demanding mental state of awake rest. Independent of parental status, men and women reacted differently to infant cries. The scientists found that the dorsal medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate areas of the brain, known to be involved in 'mind wandering' (the stream of thought typical of awake rest), remained active in men during exposure to baby cries, whereas in women, activity in these regions decreased. This activity indicates that women's brains respond to infant requests to be fed by interrupting mind wandering when exposed to the sounds of hunger cries, whereas men carry on without interruption. This ability does not mean "that fathers are worse than mothers. It simply indicates that there is a difference in how reactions have developed in men and women," Esposito told ANSA.

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