From Oxford University:
A baby’s cry actually speeds up an adult’s response to whatever task is at hand. The Oxfordians timed adult subjects playing “Whack-A-Mole,” the old arcade game, while listening either to crying babies, stressed-out adult noises, or twittering birds. As you may have guessed from personal parenting experience, the crying babies sped up the subjects’ mole-whacking speed.
“Few sounds provoke a visceral reaction quite like the cry of a baby,” said Oxford psychiatrist Morten Kringelbach. “For example, it’s almost impossible to ignore crying babies on planes…despite all the other noises and distractions around.”
The findings make evolutionary sense. In prehistoric times, babies who got their needs met quickly were more likely to survive childhood.
The Oxford team isn’t just playing games–they’re looking into the possibility that women with postpartum depression may suffer from a disruption of this ancient response to a baby’s cry.