A two-decade study found that hugs really do have powers. Direct contact between the bodies of mother and child – skin to skin – would promote the development of better empathy in adulthood.
Hugs for a good “social synchronization”
According to an Israeli study published in the journal PNAS on February 22, 2021, cuddling your child will make the child a more empathetic adult. For no less than twenty years, scientists followed a hundred people. This follow-up began at the birth of the child until adulthood. Thus, they were able to measure the effects that hugs may have had on children. from the start of their existence. Let us also mention the fact that the researchers specified that the children in question lived in two-parent families whose incomes were above the poverty line.
In order to measure the effects of mother-child physical contact, the study leaders divided the volunteers into three distinct groups. In the first group, we find babies born at term, in good health and having had many physical contacts with their mother. The second group involved premature babies who had been incubated and had no contact with their mother for at least two weeks. Finally, the third group included more stable premature births. In the latter group, mothers had skin-to-skin contact for at least an hour every day for two weeks.
According to the researchers, the results showed that contact between mothers and their babies led to a social synchronization. However, this synchronization continued throughout development, from infancy to adulthood. In addition, the study leaders also observed the activation of two areas of the brain in particular.
First social synchronizations very early
The amygdala (or tonsil complex) is an even nucleus located in the anterointernal region of the temporal lobe. This is involved in the recognition and evaluation of the emotional valence of sensory stimuli. It is neither more nor less than the identification center unaware of emotions. Let us also mention the insula (or insular cortex), one of the two lobes of the brain located internally and forming part of the cerebral cortex. This is the area where individuals integrate the signals from their own body with the signals of the emotional state of others.
Scientists have explained that the first social synchronizations start from the age of three months and continue throughout life. Obviously, this suggests the extreme importance of having loving and supportive parents. Finally, the study only concerned the mother-child relationship but the researchers indicated that the fathers taking care of their child could also generate positive effects on their future empathy.