How does maternal odor impact infants’ responses to emotional faces?
First results from our project on the impact of maternal odor on emotion processing in infancy are out!
Testing 7-month-olds in an EEG paradigm, we found that infants at this age show a reduced fear response when they can smell their mother. This suggests that maternal odor might be a strong enough signal to make the baby feel safe and reduce their need to pay increased attention to potential threats in the environment. We also found that breastfeeding might have a similar effect – while babies who were not breastfed any more showed the expected attentional response to fearful faces, this response was absent in breastfed babies.