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On 6 December 2017, the NRF Science for Society hosted a lecture entitled ‘The Parental Brain: New Insights from Brain Imaging’, by Professor Morten Kringelbach. It was held at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg.

The lecture was the last in the Brain Matters Seminar Series, funded by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development and the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS), and supported by the Wits Cortex Club and the Southern African Neuroscience Society. It was presented in partnership with SAfm and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.


For many people, becoming a parent is one of life’s most rewarding and transformative experiences, yet until recently little was known about how this experience changes the brain.

In this lecture, Professor Kringelbach of Aarhus and Oxford Universities shared new insights into how fast brain signatures (the rapid spread of neural activity) are evoked by the sight and sounds of babies.

He spoke about how the cuteness of infants – as a protective survival mechanism – shapes human lives. Lastly, he talked about cutting-edge research using new technologies in brain imaging that reveal specific areas in the brain that control the caregiving instinct.

Professor Kringelbach’s prize-winning research uses neuroimaging and whole-brain computational models of, for example, responses to infants, taste, sex, drugs and music to find ways to increase eudaimonia (wellbeing).

For a video of the event, click here.

For a Podcast, click here.

For a report on the NRF website, click here.

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