The current functional magnetic resonance imaging study examines brain activity during the perception of infant and adult tears. Infant tears evoke stronger responses in the visual cortex than adult tears, indicating that infant tears are highly salient. In addition, our study shows that infant tears uniquely activate somatosensory pain regions, which could stimulate actions directed at the elimination of the source of pain. Shedding tears may be a strong means to elicit the parent’s sharing of the infant’s feelings, thereby strengthening caregiver-infant bonding and securing infant survival.
- caregiver-infant bonding
- functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
- Infant tears
- somatosensory pain regions