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MRI Of Mom Kissing Her Baby Causes Burst Of Oxytocin

Mri Of Mom Kissing Her Baby Causes Burst Of Oxytocin - Parenting - 2023

🥰 love this concept and you may have seen this already but alas! It is not what it seems.

The meme is indeed based on an MRI image of a mother and her child, specifically Dr. Rebecca Saxe, a professor of cognitive neuroscience and associate department head at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and her son.

As Saxe explained to Smithsonian Magazine, she undertook this MRI of herself and her infant son not for any diagnostic or scientific purpose, but simply because she believed no one had yet “ever made an MR image of a mother and child”

To some people, this image was a disturbing reminder of the fragility of human beings. Others were drawn to the way that the two figures, with their clothes and hair and faces invisible, became universal, and could be any human mother and child, at any time or place in history. Still others were simply captivated by how the baby’s brain is different from his mother’s; it’s smaller, smoother and darker — literally, because there’s less white matter.

As for me, I saw a very old image made new. The Mother and Child is a powerful symbol of love and innocence, beauty and fertility. Although these maternal values, and the women who embody them, may be venerated, they are usually viewed in opposition to other values: inquiry and intellect, progress and power. But I am a neuroscientist, and I worked to create this image; and I am also the mother in it, curled up inside the [MRI] tube with my infant son.

Here’s the original

Mri Of Love Meme

Saxe later explained in a lengthy Twitter thread that she overlaid the MR image of herself and her son with information gleaned from a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study.

That study involved a comparison of the activity produced in infants’ brains when they were shown different types of visual images.

As often happens in the wonderful world of the interweb, someone else then created the meme seen at the head of this page by grafting text onto the overlaid MR image asserting that the coloured regions captured the results of a mother’s kiss, which “caused a chemical reaction in her baby’s brain that released a burst of oxytocin (a hormone that produces feelings of affection and attachment).” 😵

Fake news – it even hits pregnancy! 🙄😑


Originally posted 2021-03-03 14:28:02.


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  1. Rebecca Saxe the neurologist who made and featured in this scan says: the activations are real fMRI results, of hemodynamic responses while looking at movies of faces, compared to movies of scenes. They really are from that baby but have nothing to do with oxytocin, hormones, kissing or breastfeeding. We thought it would be cool to overlay the activation ( from our actual science study on watching face movies) onto this picture

  2. It’s a real MRI from a newborn. But it’s not from the oxytocin. It’s brain activity due to watching pictures/tv. It’s the scientist and her baby. Watch the « Babies » show on Netflix. It’s all there.

  3. This picture is so fake .. nothing lights up orange on a scan, we don’t see brain activity , no way would we be able to fit and scan a mother and newborn in an mri scanner , and we don’t scan newborns

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Written by Claire

Claire is our Community Manager here at New Moms Forum. A mom of two (almost grown-up babies), Claire has been building and operating community-based websites for almost 20 years. In her downtime, Claire enjoys spending time with her family and drinking copious amounts of red wine!

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