Perhaps 'Maternal Neurons' Operate 'Bad Mother/Good Mother' Switches

RedTracker| Scientists at Richmond University believe that women’s brains have a set of “maternal neurons” that operate like “bad mother/good mother” switches.

“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