Welcome to The Visible Embryo

Home-- -History-- -Bibliography- -Pregnancy Timeline- --Prescription Drugs in Pregnancy- -- Pregnancy Calculator- --Female Reproductive System- -Contact
 

Welcome to The Visible Embryo, a comprehensive educational resource on human development from conception to birth.

The Visible Embryo provides visual references for changes in fetal development throughout pregnancy and can be navigated via fetal development or maternal changes.

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development awarded Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grants to develop The Visible Embryo. Initally designed to evaluate the internet as a teaching tool for first year medical students, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than one million visitors each month.

Today, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than 1 million visitors each month. The field of early embryology has grown to include the identification of the stem cell as not only critical to organogenesis in the embryo, but equally critical to organ function and repair in the adult human. The identification and understanding of genetic malfunction, inflammatory responses, and the progression in chronic disease, begins with a grounding in primary cellular and systemic functions manifested in the study of the early embryo.

WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform


The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a new Web site to help researchers, doctors and
patients obtain reliable information on high-quality clinical trials. Now you can go to one website and search all registers to identify clinical trial research underway around the world!



Home

History

Bibliography

Pregnancy Timeline

Prescription Drug Effects on Pregnancy

Pregnancy Calculator

Female Reproductive System

Contact The Visible Embryo

News Alerts Archive

Disclaimer: The Visible Embryo web site is provided for your general information only. The information contained on this site should not be treated as a substitute for medical, legal or other professional advice. Neither is The Visible Embryo responsible or liable for the contents of any websites of third parties which are listed on this site.
Content protected under a Creative Commons License.

No dirivative works may be made or used for commercial purposes.

 

Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
Google Search artcles published since 2007
 
 

Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Sep 24, 2013

 

Although the women in both study groups perceived the odour of newborns with the same intensity, brain imaging showed greater activation in the dopamine system of the caudate nucleus of mothers compared to the women who had never given birth.






WHO Child Growth Charts

 

 

 

Why do we want to eat the baby?

What woman has not wanted to gobble up a baby placed in her arms, even if the baby is not hers? For the first time, an international team of researchers has found evidence of this phenomenon in the neural networks associated with reward.

This reaction, which everyone has noticed or felt, could have biological underpinnings related to maternal functions.

“The olfactory—thus non-verbal and non-visual—chemical signals for communication between mother and child are intense. What we have shown for the first time is that the odour of newborns, which is part of these signals, activates the neurological reward circuit in mothers. These circuits may especially be activated when you eat while being very hungry, but also in a craving addict receiving his drug. It is in fact the sating of desire.” explains Johannes Frasnelli, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Montreal's Department of Psychology.

The results, "Maternal status regulates cortical responses to the body odor of newborns," are published in the September 5, 2013 issue of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Reward circuit

For their experiment, the researchers presented two groups of 15 women with the odours of others' newborns while the women were subjected to brain imaging tests. The first group was composed of women who had given birth 3-6 weeks prior to the experiment, and the other group consisted of women who had never given birth. All the women were non-smokers. The odours of the newborns were collected from their pyjamas two days after birth.

Although the women in both groups perceived the odour of newborns with the same intensity, brain imaging showed greater activation in the dopaminergic system of the caudate nucleus of mothers compared to the women who had never given birth.

Located in the centre of the brain, the caudate nucleus is a double structure straddling the thalamus in both hemispheres. "This structure plays a role in reward learning,” explains Frasnelli. “And dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter in the neural reward circuit.”

This system reinforces the motivation to act in a certain way because of the pleasure associated with a given behaviour. “This circuit makes us desire certain foods and causes addiction to tobacco and other drugs,” says the researcher. “Not all odours trigger this reaction. Only those associated with reward, such as food or satisfying a desire, cause this activation.”

Dopamine is also associated with sexual pleasure and other forms of gratification. Laboratory rats whose dopamine levels are stimulated by electrodes become so addicted that they stop eating.


For the research team, these results show that the odour of newborns undoubtedly plays a role in the development of motivational and emotional responses between mother and child by eliciting maternal care functions such as breastfeeding and protection.

The mother-child bond that is part of the feeling of maternal love is a product of evolution through natural selection in an environment where such a bond is essential for the newborn's survival.


Questions remain

The experiment, however, did not allow determining whether the greater activation of the dopaminergic system in mothers is due to an organic response related to childbirth itself or whether it is a consequence of the olfactory experience developed by mothers with their own babies.


"It is possible that childbirth causes hormonal changes that alter the reward circuit in the caudate nucleus, but it is also possible that experience plays a role."

Johannes Frasnelli, postdoctoral researcher, lecturer, University of Montreal, Canada, Department of Psychology


It is also not known whether this reaction is specific to mothers, since men were not part of the experiment.

“What we know now and what is new is that there is a neural response linked to the status of biological mother," he says.

Summary
Studies in non-human mammals have identified olfactory signals as prime mediators of mother-infant bonding and they have been linked with maternal attitudes and behavior in our own species as well. However, although the neuronal network processing infant cues has been studied for visual and auditory signals; to date, no such information exists for chemosensory signals. We contrasted the cerebral activity underlying the processing of infant odor properties in 15 women newly given birth for the first time and 15 women not given birth while smelling the body odor of unfamiliar 2 day-old newborn infants. Maternal status-dependent activity was demonstrated in the thalamus when exposed to the body odor of a newly born infant. Subsequent regions of interest analyses indicated that dopaminergic neostriatal areas are active in maternal-dependent responses. Taken together, these data suggests that body odors from 2 day-old newborns elicit activation in reward-related cerebral areas in women, regardless of their maternal status. These tentative data suggests that certain body odors might act as a catalyst for bonding mechanisms and highlights the need for future research on odor-dependent mother-infant bonding using parametric designs controlling for biological saliency and general odor perception effects.

The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal. The experiment was conducted at the Department of Obstetrics at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, and Johannes Frasnelli participated in the study design and data analysis. Other researchers from France, Sweden, and the United States also participated. This document is a translation from a text originally written in French by Daniel Baril, Université de Montréal.

Original press releas: http://www.nouvelles.umontreal.ca/udem-news/news/20130923-why-do-you-want-to-eat-the-baby.html