The Natural Child Project The Natural Child Project
View shopping cart

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain by Sue Gerhardt offers an eloquent overview of the latest scientific research on attachment. Gerhardt, a British psychotherapist and cofounder of the Oxford Parent Infant Project, has accomplished the formidable task of linking the concrete language of neurochemistry to the more abstract area of attachment theory. In so doing, she has greatly clarified the nature-nurture argument, while establishing the critical importance of parental love for optimum brain development in childhood and the subsequent capacity for love and trust in adulthood. Why Love Matters is an essential new work in the field of attachment.


"Most of the literature on depression is confined to its symptoms. The focus is on the adult's brain chemistry and the adult's cognitions, which are the target of treatments. There is remarkably little recognition that the adult's brain is itself formed by experiences starting in the womb, or that these may have contributed to a predisposition to depression... 

"... breast­feeding can be a powerful source of sustenance for the mother as well as the baby. She is then potentially more able to inhibit her baby's stress response and to ensure that his cortisol levels remain low. This is achieved through her presence, her feeding and her touch. The baby is protected from stress and discomfort and his brain responds by growing more cortisol neurons. A brain well-stocked with cortisol receptors through this early experience will be better able to mop up this stress hormone when it is released in future. This furnishes the baby's brain with the capacity to stop producing cortisol when it has helped deal with a source of stress. The stress response will quickly be turned off when it is no longer needed."

Why Love Matters