For the first time ever, scientists have used an MRI scanner to create an image that captures the beautiful bond between mother and baby.
The heartwarming image is now going viral on the internet, and people from across the world are coming together to celebrate the simplicity of that strong maternal bond.
The image was created by neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe.
In her work at MIT, Saxe focuses on the way children think about other people’s thoughts.
Children’s brain activity is studied through MRI as children are read and sung to.
Rebecca Saxe is also the mother featured in the now famous image, snuggling up to her then two-month old son, Percy.
Taking An MRI Of Mother And Child
Taking photographs of babies in MRI scanners isn’t easy. The baby must lie completely still for a few minutes to allow the machine to take an image of the brain. Even the tiniest movement can cause the image to blur. Babies are usually sedated before going into the MRI scanner to make sure they stay completely still.
In the image of Saxe and Percy, Percy hasn’t been sedated. He’s simply fast asleep snuggled up in his mama’s arms.
“We Wanted To See It”
Writing in The Smithsonian, Saxe says: “This particular MR image, though, was not made for diagnostic purposes, nor even really for science. No one, to my knowledge, had ever made an MR image of a mother and child. We made this one because we wanted to see it.”
Saxe goes on to say: “To some people, this image was a disturbing reminder of the fragility of human beings. Others were drawn to the way that the two figures, with their clothes and hair and faces invisible, became universal, and could be any human mother and child, at any time or place in history. Still others were simply captivated by how the baby’s brain is different from his mother’s; it’s smaller, smoother and darker—literally, because there’s less white matter.”
They Could Be Any Mother And Child
Saxe is right, the beauty in the image lies in the fact that the mother and child are unrecognisable. They could be any mother and child, it could be you and your baby. The mother in the photo is planting a gentle kiss on her baby’s forehead, just as countless mothers around the world are probably doing this very moment. Looking at the image you can almost smell the sweet smell no doubt being emitted from the baby’s head, and imagine the feel of the sleeping baby’s clammy skin against your own.
People across the world may speak different languages and have different cultural traditions, but one thing is for certain, a mother’s love is universal.
Recommended Reading: For more heart-warming mama-child bonding, check out BellyBelly’s article Blindfolded Children Find Their Mamas.