Researchers from the University of Montreal are getting to the bottom of the perverse I-just-wanna-eat-you-up reaction we hormonal wrecks sometimes feel in the presence of babies. From the CS Monitor:
Apparently it has something to do with the way babies smell. A paper published in the current issue of Frontiers in Psychology describes how researchers in Dresden, Germany, imaged the brains of two groups of 15 women while the women sampled the odors of other parents' newborns. One group was composed of women who had given birth within the past six weeks. The other group was made up of women who had never given birth. The scientists collected the smells from the pajamas of two-day old infants.
The smells were shown to elicit activation in the women's' brains' reward circuits.
Johannes Frasnelli, one of the paper's authors, tells NPR that the attachment that comes with smell helps explain how parents get over what, "if you look at it from an objective point of view, [is] actually pretty annoying." (The "annoying" thing being "raising a child.") It also seems important here to borrow from the Monitor's belated disclaimer:
Based on responses to this story, I should probably make something absolutely clear: You should never attempt to actually eat a baby.