Scientists have discovered what makes a mother sacrifice their lives for the sake of the children

Scientists have discovered what makes a mother sacrifice their lives for the sake of the children

Neuroscientists from the Centre for the study of the unknown Champalimaud (Lisbon) and their colleagues have discovered why in a moment of danger, the behavior of mammals changes dramatically depending on whether the children with them — they have not run away, but ready to fight to the death to save their kids. Scientists say that for such a dramatic shift in behaviour is responsible for the influence of the hormone oxytocin on neurons of the amygdala (area of the brain that plays a critical role in the formation of emotions).

This was reported in the journal eLife.

Oxytocin, whose role in the formation of close emotional ties between parents and children has already indicated biologists, falls into the amygdala, where it inhibits the “natural” reaction of self-defense.

To isolate this effect of oxytocin, the researchers conducted an experiment with female rats that had just offspring. First, rats developed a conditioned reflex, forcing him to associate the smell of mint with the subsequent shock. After some time the animals began to perceive the smell as a threat and freeze. However, in the presence of the young rats behaved differently — rushed on the phone, from where came the smell, tried to close her fragments of his “lair”. When scientists blocked the access of oxytocin to the amygdala body, rats literally forgot about their “maternal duties” and was reacting to the smell of a daze.

Scientists have noticed another interesting phenomenon: the young, the mother in the course of the experiment “froze” and did not close them from danger, do not perceive the smell of peppermint as a threat. On the contrary, those whom the mother closed the whole body, when he grew up, learned to see in mint is a source of risk and showed a “normal” reaction to it (i.e., solidified). The nature of this transmission mechanism the experience of the authors of the study don’t yet fully understand.