A recent study suggests that your baby’s cry not only demands your attention but it can also change the way you think. Apparently the cognitive and neural processes in the brain are rattled and may affect your everyday decisions.
David Haley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, says that parental instincts are hardwired into an individual yet very little has been done to reveal its impact on cognition.
The researchers conducted an experiment to observe the effects of an infant’s vocalization on the participant’s cognitive functions while completing a conflicting task.
A Stroop task was used in the experiment where the adults were given printed words whose colors they had to identify as quickly as possible while paying no attention to the word’s meaning.
The brain’s functions were recorded by the electroencephalography (EEG) while the participants identified colors after hearing a 2-second clip of an infant’s laugh or cry.
The experiment was conducted in an effort to emulate real life situations that can stimulate cognitive conflicting processes as it demands attention; one of the basic requirements of making a decision, says Haley.
Joanna Dudek, one of the graduates in the Parent-Infant research Lab of David Haley and also the main author of the research, says that parents have a lot on their plates and have to take some kind of decisions every day in their lives. They may be busy with their household work when someone calls and the child starts crying. The researchers tried to find out how the parents know when to leave their work and pick up their child.
Haley says it has been observed that baby’s crying can cause aversion in adults but it also creates a kind of adaptive response where the parent switches on the cognitive control to attend to the child’s needs while completing other tasks in daily life.
A child’s cry triggers the cognitive conflict mechanism in the brain of the parents, allowing them to segregate their attention. This could also teach them how to be selectively attentive.
Hailey concluded by saying that the flexible cognitive function aids parents to focus their attention on their children while juggling a number of other activities, this might lead to momentarily ignoring the child for another task that they perceive important in a particular situation.