May 7, 2013: Marc Bornstein, at left, head of child and family research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is working on a series of studies that reveal what he calls "the parenting brain."
One set of results, "Gender Differences in Directional Brain Responses to Infant Hunger Cries," published this week in Neuroreport, the National Institutes of Health-funded research, documents what women have known since the beginning of time: the wailing of a hungry infant is less likely to bother a man than a woman.
In reporter Wes Venteicher's story in today's Los Angeles Times, Bornstein says the results could prompt fathers to be more attentive to newborns.
In an experiment, 18 men and women were encouraged to let their minds wander while researchers played recordings of white noise mixed with an infant’s cries. Those cries abruptly raised attention levels for women, brain scans showed. But men’s brains remained in a resting state...
The study’s results could be useful for new mothers, including the 12% who experience post-partum depression, Bornstein said.“Clinically speaking, it would not only be interesting to peer into the brains of depressed mothers to look at these kinds of responses but to alert depressed moms that they need to become more vigilant about their infants’ state."