There has been a great deal of conjecture about how important good mothering is to the proper development of infants. A new study with rats shows how good mothering hardwires an infants brain reported Bio-Medicine on July 18, 2014. Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have found in a study with rats that the mother's presence and social interactions directly molds the early neural activity and growth of the brains of her offspring.
The researchers carefully watched about a hundred hours of video which showed mother rats protecting, warming, and feeding their young pups. They than matched up what they saw with real-time electrical readings from the pups' brains. This study confirmed the significance of the mother's presence and social interactions and her nurturing on the early neural activity and growth of her offsprings' brain. In the study which has been published in the journal Current Biology the research team demonstrated that the mother's presence in the nest regulated and controlled electrical signaling in the brians of the infant pups.
The researchers explored for the first time whether or not infant cortical activity is influenced directly by interactions with the mother which are seen within the natural nest environment. It has been found that patterns of neural activity are vital for sculpting the immature brain. Disruptions of this activity are believed to underlie neurodevelopmental disorders. It was seen that maternal absence from the nest increased cortical desynchrony. It was also demonstrated that during early development mother-infant interactions can quickly affect infant brain activity. A very powerful influence of the maternal behavior and presence on circuit development has been observed.
For decades scientists have known that maternal-infant bonding affects neural development. The latest findings from the NYU Langone team are believed to be the first to show how such natural, early maternal attachment behaviors, which include nesting, nursing, and grooming of pups, effects key stages in postnatal development of the brain. This elucidation of the role played by nurturing in healthy brain development is fascinating. We now have a better feeling for what good mothering is all about and how important it is.