Popular science has a lot to say about mothers and children lately. (Or maybe it’s just like when you buy a new car, and suddenly you see that model everywhere—maybe it’s just me!) There was this lovely little piece about what happens when a mother and her infant smile at each other. According to Science Now,

A new study shows that 3-month-old infants and their mothers can synchronize their heartbeats to mere milliseconds. Researchers sat 40 pairs of mothers and infants face-to-face, equipped with sticky skin electrodes on either side of their hearts. Beat for beat, mother-and-child hearts thumped together almost instantly as they shared loving looks or contented coos. This cardiac coupling worked only for moms with their own babies, and only when the duos synchronized smiles and other cheerful social behaviors, researchers report in this month’s issue of Infant Behavior and Development.

Babycenter explains:

Researchers think that shared smiles and coos trigger all sorts of physiological changes, activating key areas in the brain that control heart rate and surges in oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle hormone.”


In long-term studies, researchers have found that being emotionally “in sync” with parents at 3 months of age was a predictor of more secure attachment behavior at 12 months and fewer behavior problems at 24 months.

How good for you, and how pleasant, when mothers and babies dwell together! 

Another scientific tidbit, this time from Wired, says that girls tend to calm down and feel better when they talk to their moms:

oth phone conversations with mom and face-to-face talks triggered similar hormonal responses: a drop in cortisol, which is generally linked to stress, and a rise in oxytocin, which is linked to pleasure.

For the latest study, published in the January issue of Evolution and Human Behavior, they wanted to identify the source of that comforting ...

“Would this still work if we took out the tone, if we took out the verbal cues, and all we had left over was the content of the message?” said Seltzer.

No, it turns out. “[T]he results suggest that mom’s voice — its tones and intonations and rhythms, known formally as prosodics — trigger soothing effects, rather than what she specifically says.” Instant messaging your mom is not the same as hearing her voice. “By the study’s neurophysiological measures, IM was barely different than not communicating at all.” 

And here’s one more story that’s begging me, like a needy child, to be included in this post, even though it’s not grounded in science. In fact, the author of the piece, Brian Pessaryo, says of the phenomenon he noticed, “It doesn’t matter if we don’t understand how it ‘works.’”

What phenomenon? Talking to his mother healed him of his porn addiction. Instantly.

His addiction was so firmly rooted that he says he “gave up resisting,” but when he began to pray the rosary nightly—when he spent some time talking to his mother—it was gone. He says,

OK, so I pray the Rosary and I kicked a nasty porn habit. Ho hum. Big deal, you think. Yes it is, because I should explain that when I say the addiction went away, I don’t mean gradually. I mean it vanished that first night. It was like someone reached inside my brain, found the switch for porn addiction, and turned it off. I can’t explain it. I’m not a sex therapist, but I know that’s not supposed to happen. You don’t just put down a 19-year porn addiction like yesterday’s newspaper and walk away from it. A lot of it has to do with a hormone called epinephrine that’s released in the brain each time you view pornography. It produces a high similar to cocaine. Epinephrine is the gift that keeps on giving because it has a nasty side effect of burning the images into your brain. That’s why even when I was in my late twenties I could still see those images from when I was eleven as if it were yesterday. And now they’re gone.

Pessaro explains that a friend happened to give him a book on Mary.

I felt her say to me sternly, “Brian you’ve got to stop looking at that garbage. Starting now!” My earthly mother hardly ever scolded me when I was younger. I was always the “good son.” But here I was at age 30 getting chastised by my Blessed Mother in a way I had never experienced. “What do you want me to do?” I asked helplessly. I turned the page. Pray the Rosary and wear the Scapular. I groaned. “Rosary? I’ve tried that before. It’s boring. It doesn’t work for me.” But Mary wouldn’t take no. “Try it again,” she insisted.

No smiles and coos here. But when he talked to his mother, you could say their hearts synchronized. More secure attachment behavior and fewer behavior problems? Check.

Talk to you mother! It’s good for you.