Highlights

  • 50 women with at least one biological grandchild were recruited
  • Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan their brains
  • Activation of emotional empathy was the most important observation

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It's official! Your grandma loves you more than your mom

A new study suggests that grandmas may be more emotionally connected to their grandkids than to their own children.

Grandparents often share a bond with their grandkids which can be best described as a combination of parenting and friendship. And a new study suggests that grandmas may be more emotionally connected to their grandkids than to their own children.

To better understand the biological underpinnings of this connection, 50 women with at least one biological grandchild were recruited. They were then given a picture of their kids, grandkids and the third picture of an unknown child. Researchers then used a functional magnetic resonance to scan their brains as they looked at the three different photos.

Lead author of the study said that the activation of emotional empathy in the subject's brain upon seeing their grandchild's picture was the most important observation. It was further suggested that grandmothers are geared towards feeling exactly what their grandchild is feeling when they interact with them.

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In contrast, when the grandmothers looked at images of their adult child, cognitive empathy activated in their brains. Simply put, when your grandma interacts with you, she feels an emotional connect and when she interacts with your parents, she experiences logical and cognitive connection.

The results support the idea that there may be a global caregiving system in the brain that is activated in grandmothers upon engaging with their grandkids.

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