Even though many of us already have a strong inkling that our grandmas love us, it’s always nice to get confirmation.
The researchers explored the brains of 50 grandmothers while they were shown an array of photographs—some were snaps of their grandchildren, while the rest of them were photos of unknown children and adults and their own adult children.
“They recruited areas of the brain that are involved with emotional empathy, and also areas of the brain that are involved in movement and motor simulation and preparation,” James Rilling, professor of anthropology at Emory University and lead author of the study explained to Agence France-Presse. This demonstrates that grandmothers typically have an instinctual and neurological affection for their grandchildren.
According to the study, which was published in the journal Royal Society B, when grandmothers were looking at photos of their own adult children, the areas of the brain that are associated with cognitive empathy would light up, meaning that they were probably wondering to themselves what their child was thinking and feeling instead of empathizing with their emotions.
Of course, everyone’s relationship with their grandma is distinct, but this study offers strong evidence that your grandmother probably cares for you in an especially profound way. So, if you can, make sure to give her a ring—science shows that she’ll likely be delighted to hear from you.
Source study: The Royal Society B—The neural correlates of grandmaternal caregiving