Scientists have proven that many lucky people who know their grandmothers well already know them: they have a strong instinct to protect their grandchildren and are willing to associate themselves biologically with them.
A new study published in the journal Proceedings B reveals for the first time neurological insights into this intermediate link.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers at Emory University in Georgia, USA, examined the brains of 50 grandmothers who showed pictures of grandmothers of children between the ages of three and twelve.
For comparison, pictures of children they did not know, pictures of one of their children who had become adults, and pictures of an unknown adult were also shown.
Results: “Facing the images of their grandson, they realized what he was feeling. When he expresses happiness, they feel happiness. When he expresses suffering, they feel griefAnthropologist and neuroscientist James Rilling, the study’s lead author, told AFP.
“They activate parts of the brain that are involved in emotional empathy and others in motion“, He explained.
The same areas of the brain are activated in mothers, which is explained to be connected to an intuition that allows them to reach or communicate with the baby.
Conversely, when grandmothers looked at pictures of their adult child, the implementation of areas related to cognitive empathy was strong – without understanding what a person thinks or feels and why, without developing so much emotional involvement.
According to James Rilling, these findings could be linked to the adorable appearance of children – a phenomenon that is scientifically known and shared by many organisms in order to obtain a protective response.
This is the first study of its kind
Unlike other animals, humans are assisted by mothers in raising children.
James Rilling, who had previously done research on fathers, wanted to turn his attention to his grandmother’s side in order to explore a theory known as “in anthropology.”Grandmother’s hypothesis“.
According to him, evolution has allowed women to live longer – and after a longer time they can not reproduce – so they can take care of subsequent generations.
“This is the first time we’ve seen Grandma’s brain“According to the researcher, the study of diseases such as Alzheimer’s is often overlooked.
Study participants came from Atlanta, Georgia, the region and from various ethnic and social backgrounds.
James Rilling noted that overall, Grandma was more actively implementing areas of emotional empathy when compared to what she collected from her father.
But this is only an average, he stressed, which may vary between individuals.
The scientist questioned all the participants about the challenges and benefits of being a grandmother according to them.
Disagreements with parents are very common in child rearing.
Another page, “We joked that many people mentioned the benefits of returning grandchildren (to parents), which is not a full-time job.“, He noted.
Many said they felt they could be more than they were with their own children as they were freed from time and financial constraints.
“Many of them ended up saying that they enjoy being a grandmother more than a mother.“, He concluded.
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