Study: Women are hard-wired to respond to a baby's cry

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A new study out of Italy reveals that women really do hear a baby's cry more than men.

Women in the study who listened to the sounds of a baby crying because it was hungry showed a change in activity in certain brain regions, but men showed no change.

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The study included nine men and nine women, some of whom were parents. Most participants were in their 30s. Researchers at the University of Trento asked participants to let their minds wander, and then played a recording of about 15 minutes of white noise, interrupted with periods of silence and the sounds of a hungry infant crying.

According to the study, in women's brains, there was a decrease in activity in two areas known to be active during mind wandering — the dorsal medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate areas. By contrast, these regions in men's brains remained active when they heard the baby's cries.

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Previous studies have shown that women are more likely than men to say that hearing an infant cry evokes feelings of sympathy and caregiving, while men are more likely to say that crying evokes irritation and anger

The brain patterns were not different between parents and nonparents in the study, the researchers said.

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