Why grandmothers feel more joy with their grandchildren than with their children | Skai.gr


Grandmothers may feel more emotionally attached to their grandchildren than to their children, according to a new small US scientific study. The study found that grandmothers’ brains show greater emotional activation and show more pronounced traces of empathy when they see pictures of their grandchildren rather than their boys or girls. This probably explains the experience of many older and married children with a family who see their parents feel happier when they come in contact with their grandchildren than with their own children.

The researchers, led by James Rilling, a professor of anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, according to the Guardian. fMRI) the brains of 50 women who had at least one grandchild aged three to 12 years. Participants were asked to look at pictures of children, their grandchildren or strangers while their brains were being monitored.

As Dr. Rilling put it, “What really stood out was the activation of areas of the brain that are related to emotional empathy. This shows that grandmothers are ‘wired’ to feel what their grandchildren feel when they interact with them. If “The grandchild smiles, they share the joy of the child. And if the grandchild cries, they feel the pain and anxiety of the child.”

Compared to a previous study by the same researcher on the brains of fathers looking at pictures of their children, it was found that activation in the neural areas of emotion processing, as well as in those of reward and motivation, was more pronounced in grandmothers – on average – than to fathers, although some dads had equally intense emotional brain activity.

On the other hand, when the grandmothers looked at pictures of their adult children (their grandchildren’s parents), somewhat different areas were activated in their brain, related to mental rather than emotional empathy, that is, they showed a greater tendency to understand their child. , rather than feeling it directly emotionally.

As Rilling explained, “emotional empathy exists when you are able to feel what the other person is feeling, while mental empathy exists when you understand on a cognitive level what someone else is feeling and why.”


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