The smell of babies calms men and increases aggression in women
A new study by scientists from the Wiseman Institute has revealed that the smell of newborns has a direct effect on human behavior. The reaction differs by gender, increasing aggression in women and reducing it in men. Hexadecanal (HEX), a chemical that exudes from the baby’s body, also plays a role in reducing stress in mice. At the same time, it is known that the effect of HEX on people reduces a person’s reaction to fright. The latest study examined the effect of HEX on the level of aggression, in particular, on its difference depending on gender.
The study was carried out using functional magnetic resonance imaging. In both sexes, HEX increased activity in the left angular gyrus of the brain, but the connection of this area with others was different. Women under the influence of the substance showed increased aggression, while men calmed down. Researchers suggest that such gender-specific reactions may be a tool of evolution, with the help of which babies have increased chances of survival.
The greatest concentration of HEX is secreted by the newborn’s scalp, so the substance is most likely a signaling element from the child to the parents. While the baby is not able to talk, chemical communication plays a key role for him. In the animal world, the phenomenon of infanticide is observed in male mammals, while increased maternal aggression helps the female to protect her offspring. At this age, it is very advantageous for you to make your mother ready for protection, and at the same time calm the ardent father.
The study does not claim to be final conclusions yet. The link between HEX exposure and fluctuations in brain activity is obvious, but it is still not known whether only olfactory impulses and the amount of substance secreted by infants are enough to cause a noticeable change in behavior. However, the results do not allow us to doubt that odors play an important and complex role in the behavior of young parents, in addition to the simple release of serotonin and dopamine.