New moms may not crave the buzz that a margarita allows as they've got a natural upper on their hands. A study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine reveals that mothers often experience a "high" when seeing their child smile.
Assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor and and Texas Children's Hospital, Lane Strathearn and his team studied the brain reactions of 28-first time moms. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the mothers' brain reactions to photographs of their 5-month to 10-month-old babies and those of others in three emotional states: happy, neutral and sad.
As expected, the sight of their happy babies sent blood rushing to the moms’ brain regions associated with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in addiction. The spike rewarded the mothers with a neural kick that prompted them to want to take action to care for their babies.
To see how the mommies responded to their children's sad faces, read more.
Surprisingly, however, the moms in the study didn’t respond as strongly to their infants when their expressions were neutral — or when they were in distress. The neural scans showed the mothers responded to all crying infants about the same, by activating areas of the brain involved in conflict.
Does your tot's smile make you feel intoxicated?