A baby’s cry produces quicker reactions in women AND men

New research suggests this is part of a "high alert" state, which primes both men and women to react quickly


You might think your other half’s a little slow to respond, but a crying baby triggers a uniquely fast response from both men and women, research has shown.


Scientists from Oxford University compared reaction times of adults while listening to babies crying, the sounds of adults in distress, and birdsong.

They found the response times were quicker for both men and women when they heard the sound of a baby crying.

“This is not just of academic interest. Our work is showing that in mothers with postnatal depression, through no fault of their own, this response may be disrupted to some extent,” said study leader Professor Morten Kringelbach.

Depression and postnatal depression may result in some people not attending so much to babies’ cries. We are looking at whether interventions can make a difference to this.”

Previous studies have shown that the sound of a crying baby increases an adult’s heart rate, raises blood pressure and strengthens hand grip.


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