“We believe that a certain number of these ‘maternal neurons’ need to be ‘switched on’ for good mothering to take place,” explains Professor Craig Kinsley, whose research has so far been limited to rodents and small mammals. via The Age
Their research shows that at least in nature, mothers with fewer ‘maternal neurons’ tended to neglect or abuse their offspring. Animals with the lowest numbers actually savaged or killed their own young.
Professor Alison Fleming, director of the Center for the Study of the Psychobiology of Maternal Behaviour at the University of Toronto, rejects the idea that a single factor determines maternal behavior.
“The idea that a woman’s brain is ‘hard-wired’ in such a way that she will abuse her children and that it is not within her power to refrain from doing wrong is based on a misunderstanding of neuro-anatomy. All behavior is dictated by the brain, but the brain is formed in interaction with our environment.” via The Age
Surely there’s merit to Dr. Fleming’s argument. Yet brain scan research in general provides powerful information about how mammals behave. Brain scan research should not be ignored with the belief that counseling and morality coaching will create a positive experience, no matter the scientific pot of biological ingredients.
Understanding solid science that discredits morality-based, patriarchal stereotypes about women — in this case being naturally nurturing — can be as liberating as it is feared. We welcome this new research into the “maternal” mind. Anne
Understanding that ‘maternal neurons’ is a loaded topic, we’re checking other scientific research.
Exposure to Young Triggers New Neuron Creation in Females Exhibiting Maternal Behavior Dec 2009 via Science Daily
This research argues that exposure to young ‘automatically’ triggers new neurons in the maternal brain, even if the female rat wasn’t pregnant. There’s no mention of degrees of attachment.
Serotonin Neurons Critical for Mouse Postpartum Maternal Behavior Sept 2008 EmaxHealth
Mouse mothers genetically bred to have impaired brain serotonin neurons failed to build proper nests and to keep their pups warm in huddles, resulting in their succumbing to exposure. Translated, the mice died.