Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2021 / 14:00 pm
In her new book “Mom Genes: Inside the New Science of Our Ancient Maternal Instinct,” author Abigail Tucker argues that maternal instinct can be measured in a lab.
“I had never thought of maternal behavior, maternal instinct, as something you could study under a microscope,” Tucker told CNA in an interview. However, she said that a trip to Emory University and a study of rodents made her consider the distinctiveness of a mother’s brain.
“We are just beginning to understand what makes moms moms,” Tucker said. “And that’s to the detriment of the human species.”
Weaving her own experience as a mother with an examination of the ways motherhood changes body and mind, Tucker’s book explores the biology of motherhood.
Tucker said that while most of her career was spent writing about animals, one area of expertise she could contribute to was her own experience having four children.
“By repeating the experience four times, I was able to see some of the hidden forces and wild card factors that were shaping me,” she said.
Maternal instinct, she told CNA, is really a “change in motive.” She noted that some of these changes are physical. The brain, for example, is “a very key organ of childbirth,” she said.
“Maternal instinct is really the awakening of this core, pro-baby motive, it’s a sensitization to infant cues and a desire to respond to them,” Tucker said. “One scientist called it an ‘unmasking of a latent identity.’”