"And the stars are projectors, yeah, projecting our lives down to this planet Earth." - Modest Mouse
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison have shown that the face of a baby induces positive activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in decoding the emotional value of a stimulus. While much is know about negative emotions, little is known about positive ones - a fact which is perhaps symptomatic of our culture. The baby test validates the function of the orbitofrontal cortex in processing emotion and highlights the bond between mother and child.
"There's one stimulus that's universally positive: baby faces," says [neuroscientist Jack] Nitschke. "Just looking at them gets most people, particularly new moms, feeling all warm and happy."
"This study provides further evidence for the sage saying to stop and enjoy the little pleasant things in life, such as looking at pictures of your child or even receiving small rewards for doing something well - both of which involve activation of the orbitofrontal cortex. This puts you in a better mood and leads to brain changes that correspond to feeling happier."
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