Mother’s Instinct August 23, 2019
A Mother’s Day Special Blog: The Science of Maternal Instincts
As we come close to mothers day we are all given the chance to reflect on the amazing mothers out there, and mothers themselves can reflect on their own experience of motherhood. Especially through pregnancy and into the first year of motherhood there are significant adaptations in the mother’s brain prompted by hormonal changes. Activity increases in the regions that control empathy, anxiety and social interaction such as the prefrontal cortex, midbrain and parietal lobes. These changes contribute to those feelings of overwhelming love, fierce protectiveness and constant worry.
One area of the brain has been of particular interest when studying postpartum mothers: the amygdala. This small region of neurons helps process memory and drives emotional reactions such as fear, anxiety and aggression. After giving birth for the first time the amygdala grows and this helps the mother to bond to the baby and to be hypersensitive to its needs. The amygdala rewards the mother with happy hormones to motivate mothering behaviours (not unlike training a puppy!). Fathers also experience these rewards for paternal behaviour such as moving their baby around and presenting objects to them. There are unfortunately also down sides to these neural adaptations; likely these heightened states of alertness contribute to post-natal depression and anxiety.
So really all our mothers’ love boils down to is a few hormones and neurons… and her sleepless nights, her pearls of wisdom, her sacrifices, the safety she builds around you, and her always being ready to drop anything to come to your side. This mother’s day lets all do something thoughtful and special for our mums, and to the mums out there allow yourself to be appreciated for all the hard work those pesky hormones conned you into.
Written by Steph Folley
History of the Easter Egg, Easter Bunny & Chocolate April 17, 2019
The ancient historical meaning of the Easter egg is the symbolism of new life. The Easter egg is believed to have originated in America in the 1700’s with German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania transporting their tradition of an egg laying hare called “Osterhase”, now more commonly known as the “Easter Bunny”. The German children would often construct nests in which the hare could lay its coloured eggs. Christianity, however, uses the Easter egg to resemble Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection with the eggs often dyed red to represent Jesus’ blood. Other sources suggest that the tradition of decorating Easter eggs dates back to the early 13th century with some people believing eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season. Therefore, people would paint and decorate eggs to signify the end of the period of fasting, then eat them on Easter to celebrate.
The more commonly accepted chocolate Easter egg is a sweet treat introduced by the Europeans in the early 19th century as a marketing tool. The Americans consume the most Easter sweets each year spending $1.6 billion each year. Chocolate has been historically appreciated beginning in Mesoamerica in 350BC with cacao seeds being used to produce fermented beverages. The Aztecs considered the seeds to be a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom with the seeds being used as a form of currency because of their extreme value and importance. The chocolate commonly seen on the grocery store shelves was founded by Joseph Fry in 1847 by adding melted cacao butter with Dutch Cocoa to produce a chocolate bar. Furthermore, that sparked the evolution of a small business named Cadbury in England.
Written by Kaleb Wilden
Violatti, Cristian. “Easter.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. March 31, 2014. Web Accessed March 26, 2019.
Dominguez, Trace. “What Does the Easter Bunny Have To Do With Easter?” Discovery News, March 26, 2019.
Orgill, Kelly. “Easter: The nation’s second biggest candy selling holiday.” The Digital Universe, April 5, 2012. Web Accessed March 26, 2019.