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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why do people want to eat babies?

If you're like most normal people, you've briefly considered eating a baby or two.

Not literally - but pretend baby-eating – that is, explaining to an infant that she is so cute that you just want to gobble her up, or, in extreme cases, gently grabbing a pudgy appendage and making Cookie-Monster eating sounds is not unheard of among H. sapiens. 

Apparently it has something to do with the way babies smell. A paper published in the current issue of Frontiers in Psychology describes how researchers in Dresden, Germany, imaged the brains of two groups of 15 women while the women sampled the odors of other parents' newborns. One group was composed of women who had given birth within the past six weeks. The other group was made up of women who had never given birth. The scientists collected the smells from the pajamas of two-day old infants.

The smells were shown to elicit activation in the women's' brains' reward circuits.

This circuit makes us desire certain foods and causes addiction to tobacco and other drugs,” said University of Montreal researcher and study co-author Johannes Frasnelli, in a news release. “Not all odors trigger this reaction. Only those associated with reward, such as food or satisfying a desire, cause this activation.”

What's more, the mothers' reward circuits showed far more activation than those of the non-mothers.

Read the whole thing at CSMonitor.

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