Today I stumbled upon this article on io9.com: Mothers and babies can instantly synchronize their hearts just by smiling at each other.
It’s about a recent paper from Infant Behavior and Development entitled Mother and infant coordinate heart rhythms through episodes of interaction synchrony.
The take home message- within a second of interacting with one another, moms and their 3 month old babies were able to synchronize their heartbeats. Pretty amazing. Although, when you really think about it, maybe not all that surprising. I know that when Mabel was little, Mac could try every trick in the daddy book and she’d still be upset. However, when he’d finally hand her over to me, she calm down right away.
Now that Mac is the primary care giver, and has been for the past year and half, I think she now prefers him. When she’s sick or particularly cranky or clingy, it seems she prefers him to me. It kind of breaks my heart, but I’d much rather her be so effectively nurtured and soothed in my absence, then for her to miss out on that because I was at work.
Apparently lots of mammal moms and babies can synchronize their physiological processes, but humans are the only ones (we know of so far) that can do it just by non-physical interactions- like speaking or looking at one another.
How it works or why it works, whether it’s purely a biological connection or can form between adopted moms or other caregivers isn’t known.
That article made me think back to this study that was in the news a few months ago: Social vocalizations can release oxytocin in humans. For a lay description check out Slate’s piece on it: Listen to your mother: It will help you relax.
Turns out it’s not just 3 month old babies that can be physiologically effected by their moms- it works for teens too! Teenage girls who spoke with their moms on the phone showed a decrease in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
I know there is nobody on earth who can comfort me in the same way as my mom. Unfortunately I think this is a double-edged sword, because she also has a special and effective way of annoying the (*$#! out of me too.