Have you ever wondered why it seems that your forgetful sister who just became a mother has all of a sudden become more intelligent than before, how about that your sloppy colleague that have suddenly become as effective as Condoleezza Rice after resuming from her maternity leave; or have you ever wondered why those celebrities seem to leave their philandering partners after having giving birth (Is it today that she realises he checks out everything in skirt and trouser too!)? Trouble your head no more Sherlock, science has finally provided the answer to your lingering queries.No doubt you’ve heard the unflattering (but not uncommon) mothering stereotype that babies suck as much energy from every mothers brain as they do from their body. Ouch.
Sure, childrearing takes a toll – as evidenced by the amount of time some mothers used in squeezing nipple cream onto their toothbrush. But giving birth is hardly the equivalent of a frontal lobotomy. In fact, motherhood is the ticket to boosting brainpower. Scientists have found that far from making women absent-minded, pregnancy and motherhood actually make them brainier. A study found expectant mothers do just as well on memory tests as other women – and in many cases, they actually do better. Researchers examined brain scans of 25 first-time mothers, from both before and after pregnancy, as well as the brain scans of 20 women with no children.The researchers say that far from turning the brain into mush, pregnancy super-charge the grey matter, to help prepare women for the challenges of motherhood.Their findings, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed that the volume of grey matter in certain areas of the brain decreased in women who had been pregnant. It’s thought that these changes last for at least two years after birth. “These changes were remarkably consistent,” said Elseline Hoekzema, co-author of the study from Leiden University. “So consistent that a computer algorithm could automatically identify which of the women in our sample had been pregnant between the sessions and which [had] not.” After exploring these changes, the researchers said they could be down to a woman’s transition into motherhood
“Brain changes may sound somewhat intimidating, but our findings suggest that there may be an evolutionary purpose to these changes that may serve you in some way when you become a mother,” Hoekzema added.The specific brain regions which showed a drop in grey matter volume are significant too. They are linked to the ability to put others first and imagine how they would think or feel. As for dads? The study, which compared 19 first-time fathers and 17 men without children, found no evidence of the differences spotted in new mothers’ brains.
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