Scientific American refutes the mommy-brain myth with new research that shows new moms’ brains actually get bigger:
Structural changes in animal brains, says National Institutes of Health neuroscientist Pilyoung Kim, are critical to getting mothers to take care of their offspring. Similar changes in human mothers, she observes, might be necessary for attentive parenting and ultimately forming long-term emotional bonds, and now there is evidence suggesting that possibility. Using MRI, Kim and her colleagues at Yale University and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor produced detailed maps of the brains of 19 new mothers a few weeks after they gave birth. At around the same time, the researchers asked mothers to select words from a list of positive descriptors such as “beautiful,” “perfect” and “special” to describe how they felt about their babies and about their experience of parenting.
When the scientists mapped the mothers’ brains again about three months later, some areas had grown, including the hypothalamus, amygdala and substantia nigra—regions that animal studies suggest are involved with caring for, learning about and forming positive feelings toward newborns.
They plan on doing similar studies on fathers.
I can’t help but wonder if this kind of brain growth has anything to do with sleep deprivation – either as a result of or a coping mechanism for.