A new study published this year, reveals a deeper understanding of the beautiful bond between a mother and her child.
We already know that the relationship between mother and child is amazing and complex in itself, but this new study suggests that the human brain reacts to this existing bond so that both mother and baby's brain operate in tandem, forging a special connectivity between them.
.A team of scientists from Cambridge University used dual EEG testing to measure brain signals in mothers and infants during mutual interaction. They discovered that in certain emotional situations, the mother’s brain and the baby’s brain operate in tandem, forging between them what is called interpersonal neural connectivity. There is connectivity between their neurons, even though they are in two separate brains!
A group of scientists at Cambridge University, studied 15 mothers and babies to measure their brain activity when they interacted with one another. They discovered that, in certain emotional situations, the reactions and responses in the brain of both mother and child appeared to work alongside each other – implying a deeper connection between the two. The study can be found here
Writing in Haaretz, Gid'on Lev explains that the researchers used the data gained from their observations to measure the degree of connectivity when mothers and babies interacted to show the degree of connectivity.
Leong and her associates subjected the data they gleaned from the mother-infant interactions to mathematical processing. One index examined was divisibility, which shows the degree of connectivity between the two brains.
“If two brains are completely disconnected – that is, there are two fully separated systems – the divisibility index will be high. Conversely, if the brains are fully connected, the divisibility index will be low,” she said. “Our data indicated that positive maternal emotions produced stronger brain connectivity between mother and baby. Their brains showed low divisibility, indicating that mother and baby were working together as a single unit, or one mega-network.”
“You still have two people, they do not become one, but they are also not exactly separate,” she replied. “When two things are separate, one can change without influencing the other; when they are connected, however, if one of them changes, the other necessarily changes too, even if not in the same manner.”
Leong suggested an analogy, one of two dancers. “When you watch a pair of people dancing together, we can tell that they are in synchrony because they are both moving in time to the same rhythm. This doesn’t mean that they are doing exactly the same thing at the same time; it means that there is a predictable temporal pattern to their movement. For example, one partner may step forward at the same time that the other partner steps backward. Also, if they are good dance partners, they will be continuously adjusting to each other. So if one partner decides to slow down, the other will also slow down to maintain their synchrony.
“Neural synchrony is similar. We can tell that two people are in neural synchrony, because when we measure their patterns of brain activity using a method like electroencephalography, their brainwaves fluctuate predictably with respect to each other.”
This new study deepens our understanding of the relationship and bond between the two, further stressing it's importance.
Whilst this comes as no surprise, it is truly amazing that even scientific research on the human brain finds support for the unique and beautiful relationship between a mother and her child.
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