Babies make moms brighter

Babies make moms brighter

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland found that the brains of new mothers bulked up as they coped with the steep learning curve of dealing with a newborn. And mothers who gushed the most about their babies showed the greatest growth in key parts of the brain.

For their study, the researchers scanned the brains of 19 women of whom 10 gave birth to boys and nine delivered girls. A comparison of images taken two to four weeks and three to four months after the women gave birth showed that grey matter volume increased by a small but significant amount in various parts of the brain, the Telegraph reported.

Such changes usually only occur after intense periods of learning or a brain injury or illness.
The researchers, who detailed their findings in the journal Behavioural Neuroscience, speculated that “hormone levels and the need to cope with the challenges of a baby led to the increase in brain cells”.

The brain areas that grew involve motivation, reasoning, judgement, the processing of emotions and feelings of satisfaction, and are key to the mother-child relationship.
The expansion in the brain’s “motivation area”, called hypothalamus, could lead to more nurturing, which would help babies survive and thrive physically, emotionally and cognitively.

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