This study, from researchers at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Leiden University and published in Nature Neuroscience, looked at the brain scans of women before they became pregnant, soon after they gave birth, and two years later, to see how the brain changed.
Mothers with their first pregnancy showed structural brain changes that last for at least two years after giving birth, according to the researchers. But no evidence of memory deterioration was found in the women, however, it was on a scale related to those brain changes as those seen in adolescence.
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Many pregnant women say they feel forgetful and emotional during their pregnancies and blamed it on being “pregnant” or “baby” brain and with good reason it seems. There is an extreme surge of sex hormones and drastic physiological and physical changes in the body during pregnancy. Women experience a flood of estrogen which is greater than for the whole rest of their lives during those nine months they carry their child.
The study compared 19 first-time fathers, 17 men without children, 20 women who had never given birth and the 25 first-time mothers for this study. It was during this study that the researchers found “substantial” reductions in the volume of grey matter in the brains of the mothers.
The changes in the grey matter occurred in the areas of the brain involved in social interactions used for attributing thoughts and feelings to other people. This would give new mothers an advantage in various ways like helping them to recognize the needs of the child, be more aware of potential social threats and become more attached to their own baby.
Women were shown pictures of their own babies and he brain involved in social interactions lit up the parts of the where the grey matter had been reduced or “fine-tuned” during pregnancy. The same areas did not light up when pictures of other babies were viewed.
To test the accuracy of the findings, researchers used computers to analyze their data. The computers were able to pick out the women who had been pregnant just by analyzing the brain images.
Researchers found no changes in first-time fathers’ grey matter in the study when their brains were monitored before and after their partners’ pregnancy. There were also no changes in the white matter areas of the brain in any of those studied.
The study author and postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, Elseline Hoekzema stated: “We can speculate that the volume reductions observed in pregnancy represent a process of specialization or further maturation of this Theory of Mind network that, in some way, serves an adaptive purpose for pending motherhood.”
It’s not a mother’s heart that is linked to her children, but her brain also. Perhaps that’s why mothers are so intuitive to the needs and any ailments of their young children.
The commenters on the CBS news this morning mentioned that this showed an evolutionary purpose in the development of humans but I see the purpose of the Designer God who provides all we need. So many people try so hard to see evolution in everything when the truth is that God designed us perfectly in the beginning. When I look at nature and studies like this, I see the infinite wisdom of the One who created man, the world and entire universe.
This is another proof for design and not evolution.
For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts.…Romans 1:19-21