If your husband sleeps undisturbed while you’re abruptly awakened by your hungry baby, you may wonder if he’s deliberately tuning out the baby’s cries.
It’s not intentional, say researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Instead, their research suggests that, unlike men’s brains, women’s brains are hard-wired to respond to a baby’s cries.
To test this, 18 men and women—parents and nonparents—were asked to let their minds wander. Then they listened to a recording of white noise interspersed with the sounds of an infant crying. Brain scans showed that regardless of whether the women were parents, their brains switched patterns of brain activity to attentive mode from a default mode. Men’s brains, however, remained in the resting state.