Samford Chiropractic Centre

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Rock A Bye Baby

Posted by on May 7, 2014 at 11:30 PM


The Time Life documentary "Rock A Bye Baby" describes the influence of different practices in infant treatment and child rearing on emotional development, both in humans and in monkeys.

In the beginning, it is noted that the contact of the child to the mother represents the first socio-emotional interaction the child experiences and lays the fundamentals for its later behaviors. We learn that social animals isolated from their mothers and receiving no nurturing physical affection develop severe depression and can die from such deprivation. In addition, maternal-infant isolation that leads to sensory deprivation can cause developmental brain damage. These facts show that mother love has a neurobiological basis that is essential for life.

Next we are introduced to Harry Harlow's experiments with surrogate mothers which have shown that monkeys raised alone in an environment without mother and peers prefer to be with a cloth-covered mother surrogate without a milk bottle rather than with a wire-cage surrogate mother that provides a milk bottle, even when hungry.

They even cling to their cloth-covered wooden dolls when they are frightened and they experience the same emotional stress other social animals experience when isolated from their surrogate mothers. These experiments show that the need for a loving relationship (percepted, in this case, by the "fur") is stronger than the mere need for food even when hungry. Thus, love-hunger is stronger than food-hunger.


Harlow's experiments are part of most psychology textbooks of today.


The single greatest contribution to understanding the mother-infant separation syndrome was provided by Drs. William Mason and Gershon Berkson in their swinging mother surrogate experiments where the importance of body movement (vestibular-cerebellar simulation) in mother-infant bonding was documented. Monkeys raised singly in cages in a colony room with stationary cloth mother surrogates were compared to those raised with swinging cloth mother surrogates. The infant monkeys reared on the stationary mother surrogate developed all of the abnormalities which isolation-reared monkeys develop – depression, social withdrawal, aversion to touch, stereotypical rocking and chronic toe and penis sucking, self-mutilation and pathological violence as juveniles and adults.


The infant monkeys reared on the swinging surrogate mother developed normally with only minor stimulus-seeking behaviors, e.g. thumb-sucking. Depression, social withdrawal and avoidance of touch were absent in the swinging mother surrogate reared infant monkeys.


There are good reasons why infants and children seek to be carried on the bodies of their mothers and fathers and love to be rocked to sleep.

James W. Prescott's experiments are less widely recognized. While the breakthrough studies by Drs. Mason and Berkson interpreted the importance of infant body movement in a social context, developmental neuropsychologist Dr. Prescott examined the neurobiological mechanisms involved 1.


Dr. Prescott then launched a series of brain-behavioral studies with various colleagues on the effects of loss of mother love on the structural and functional development of the brain. These studies documented both structural abnormalities of brain cells and functional abnormalities 2.


Studies by Dr. Selma Fraiberg on congenitally blind children demonstrated that when these blind children received sufficient body contact and movement stimulation from their parents they develop normal emotional-social behaviors. These effects are dramatically portrayed in "Rock A Bye Baby", as are the studies of Dr. Mary Neal who constructed a swinging bassinet for premature babies. The premature babies that were given this artificial body movement stimulation showed accelerated neuromaturation, as reflected in head movements, crawling, grasping and other reflexes. These infants gained weight faster, had less health problems and were discharged earlier from the hospital than non-moved prematures.


In spite of the evident positive effects of auto-moving incubators on the health of premature babies as shown by Dr. Neal, such incubators are not in use in American hospitals. The necessity of movement is mostly overlooked in modern infant care and the newborns are placed on still mattresses.


"Rock A Bye Baby" also documents how a retarded institutionalized infant of six months of age can have that retardation reversed when provided a loving substitute mother in an intense "one-to-one" relationship. The longer the deprivation and the later a loving mother substitute is provided for such infants, the less recovery from the damage is possible.


The following report from BBC News of an article published in JAMA has discovered that the cerebellum is involved in ADHD disorders but the authors do not understand why. From the article...


The most striking size difference was found in an area

known as the cerebellum, which was on average 6%

smaller in ADHD children.


The cerebellum is known to be involved in motor coordination, but recent studies suggest it may also play a role in controlling the speed at which the brain works.


Dr Castellanos said: "We still don't understand the essential role of the cerebellum, but this region is clearly affected in children with ADHD, and this area may be useful in providing timing information, that is, coordinating signals going from one region of the brain to another."


Professor Julio Licinio, the editor of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, told BBC News Online: "I think this is very significant."


Why has it taken over 30 years for the recognition of this fact and that the primary etiology is in failed Basic Bonding {Vestibular (Movement) Deprivation} in the mother-infant/child relationship which insight is lost on the modern neuroscience community? The lessons of Rock a Bye Baby and the NICHD supported research that documented impaired cerebellar structure and functioning in mother deprived violent monkeys who were hyperactive/ hyper-reactive and tactile avoidant as infants, juveniles and adults has yet to be learned., as well as the supporting cross-cultural studies on these behaviors.


Sensory stimulation is essential for normal growth, development and functioning of the brain and tactile avoidance further impairs the normal development of psychosexual behaviors.


The futures of every generation of children are being compromised and damaged by this fateful neglect and indifference to this scientific body of data and its implications for the transformation of human cultures that are necessary for the development of peaceful, happy and harmonious children and cultures.

To read the article in BBC click here:

To read the abstract in JAMA, click here:


07 Octobre 2008



Categories: General Well Being, Kids, Pregnancy

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