A new study has found that a mother’s instincts may be caused by changes in the brain when they give birth.
The new study, which appears in Nature Neuroscience, has gathered new research and results which show that maternal instincts may be caused by structural changes in the mother’s brain, which occur when the woman gives birth, and last for two years after.
Researchers for the study conducted MRI brain scans of 45 women, 25 of which became first-time mothers during the study period and 20 of whom remained childless, as well as 19 first-time fathers and 17 men who did not have any children.
It is believed that most of the changes take place in the parts of the cerebral cortex that are the same as those that are involved with an individual’s act of reading the intentions and feelings of others. This is believed to possibly enhance a new mother’s intuition when understanding their new baby’s needs.
The pregnant women of the study then proceeded to have another scan shortly after giving birth.
When researchers examined the results from each group, they found that new mothers displayed a decrease in grey matter in the certain parts of the brain which were the same as those areas which became increasingly active when the mothers looked at photographs of their own babies.
Interestingly, this matter increase did not appear when they saw photos of other people’s children, which suggests that these changes in a mother’s brain may help to aid a mother’s connection to her children.
The brain regions where these structural changes occurred have been proven to shrink in teenage girls, when the unnecessary brain connections are temporarily eliminated, which leads to a heightened emotional processing.
Follow-up scans on the same first time mothers revealed that the changes to their brain structures still remained, even though they had not had another newborn child, suggesting that the impacts on women’s brains when giving birth prepares them for providing for their new babies.
IMAGE CREDIT:subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo
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