Babies’ cries prompt fast reaction from adults

A new study by the University of Oxford suggests that the cry of a baby increases reaction times in adults. (Courtesy Northwestern University)

WASHINGTON – If drinking coffee to kick-start your morning isn’t cutting it anymore, there’s an alternative — but you’ll need to change diapers.

The sound of babies crying gets adults to react quickly, an Oxford University study suggests.

It compared 40 volunteers playing the arcade game Whack-A-Mole after listening to babies cry with the scores of other adults listening to people or birds in distress.

Those who heard the baby cry scored higher than those who didn’t.

“Our findings suggest that baby cries are treated as ‘special,'” Oxford University professor Morten Kringelbach said in a news release. “The improvements in speed and dexterity may reflect an evolved response that kicks in when an immediate reaction to a baby in distress is required.”

So when the pressure is on, maybe that newborn’s cry isn’t so bad after all.

WTOP’s Nathan Hager contributed to this report. Follow Nathan and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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