THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF LOVE - A Controversial Experiment On Baby Monkeys And Humans

in hive-196387 •  4 days ago 


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Love has been described and defined in so many ways. It gives us comfort, enchants us and makes us yearn to come together and become one with another person. It is also described as a powerful emotion and probably the most powerful of all. I could probably exhaust the whole article trying to define Love, as the kind of love we humans experience does not exist in the same way in other animals.

Hence my quest to investigate the reason why Love in this intensity only developed in we humans. Unlike most people who see love as a passive feeling; something they decide to fall in or out of, I’ll rather prefer to understand a little bit of how love actually works. That way we can be more matured as to how we go about our various relationships with one another.

Luckily, there are also other scientists around the world who are trying to find out the same exact thing. What exactly is Love? What happens in our hearts and brains? And is it even possible to make Love last a Lifetime?

There is no doubt that Love is a basic need. As babies, we all experience it for the first time in form of Parental love (which is instinctual and unconditional). A mother is biologically pre-programed to block out all her other needs if necessary because human babies cannot survive without parental care which is as important as food and drink to is to them. An American psychologist proved this in the 1950s with controversial experiments in which; he separated baby monkeys from their mothers. He wanted to prove the importance of care giving and companionship.


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In his experiment; the monkeys were fed from a bottle of milk hanging from a wire mother while a second mother had a face and a fur coat but no milk. He observed that the monkeys briefly went to the milk mother to drink, but spent the rest of their time with their cuddly fur mother. Furthermore, the monkeys that grew up in Isolation, Later showed signs of severe psychological distress. These experiments demonstrated for the first time how important Love, Companionship and nurturing are for infants.

However, Researchers today use less cruel techniques to find out how important love is for the babies (e.g. by analyzing babies’ saliva). When a child feels anxious or stressed, the 'Stress Hormone'; Cortisol can be found in the child’s Saliva.


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This is an important part of a research carried out by Psychologist Anna-Lena Zietlow of Heidelberg University Hospital. One of the tests involved named the ‘Still Face Test’ in which the mother is not allowed to show her child any affection for two (2) minutes right after she had played with the baby was carried out to study and analyze how the child responds after it might have been stressed by its mother’s neglect. During the test, the Child sees that too much time has passed without a response from the mother and it is definitely not happy with this. Interestingly, as soon as the mother becomes responsive to the child’s emotional needs, the child instinctively knows his/her mother will always be there for him/her whenever it is sad or angry. There are studies that show that there are links between this early mother-child interaction and the capacity to bond in later life.

Therefore, our experience of love as infants shapes our ability to form meaningful relationships much later in life. However, unfortunately there exist a number of mothers who cannot feel love for their babies.! This is due to certain issues such as POST PARTUM DEPRESSION. This led some researchers to work on finding out the factors which influence the MARTENAL BOND. To achieve this, they used Brain scans coupled with Neuro-feedback tests to check and determine the blood flow to the reward centre in the mother’s brain. This way, they could measure MARTENAL LOVE!

In the Neuro-Feedback test, the mother was placed in a MRI machine and photos of her baby monitored by the researchers were displayed for her view. A gauge showed how strongly the mother’s reward centre was activated. This allowed them to assess the strength of her maternal bond. A green zone reading on the gauge means the Mother has a strong bond with her child. For a mother with a weak bond, achieving a green zone reading is hard.


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Neuro-Feedback can also be used to train brain functions that are hypoactive, and give them a boost. By using the power of her brain, the mother learns how to enhance the parent-child bond with immediate feedback. It is more like a way to practice love. And if the mother exercises her brain like a muscle, the behavior becomes automatic soon enough maybe the next time she sees her baby, a strategy might not be needed as the bond will kick in instinctively.

Thank you for reading through my post. This is my first scientific research attempt I am posting on any blog. I hope you got the message in the article . I definitely look forward to your comments and views on the topic discussed so far. Stay tuned and follow me on my quest as we explore our world together to see how science and love sync together as one! Cheers!! .



Biography of Psychologist Harry Harlow
Cortisol In Saliva
Emotional Stress During Pregnancy

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Great article, pretty well explained, nice job on you first scientific post! I hope to see more from you here in StemSocial!