Fatherhood changes a man's brain

Jun 16 2014, 17:44 IST
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Researchers have found evidence that mothers' and fathers' brains use a similar neural circuitry when taking care of their children. (Thinkstock) Researchers have found evidence that mothers' and fathers' brains use a similar neural circuitry when taking care of their children. (Thinkstock)
SummaryResearchers have found evidence that mothers' and fathers' brains use a similar neural circuitry when taking care of their children.

Fatherhood can change a man's brain, equipping dads with the very same "baby sense" that is often attributed to moms, research suggests.

Researchers have found evidence that mothers' and fathers' brains use a similar neural circuitry when taking care of their children.

Taking care of a child reshapes a dad's brain, causing it to show the same patterns of cognitive and emotional engagement that are seen in moms, researchers said.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers looked at brain activity in 89 new parents as they watched videos, including some that featured the parents' own children.

The study examined mothers who were their children's primary caregivers, fathers who helped with childcare and gay fathers who raised a child without a woman in the picture.

All three groups of parents showed activation of brain networks linked to emotional processing and social understanding.

In particular, fathers who were their children's primary caregivers showed the kind of activation in emotional processing seen mostly in primary caregiver moms.

The results suggest there's a parenting brain network common to both sexes, 'Live Science' reported.

A recent review of studies by psychologist Elizabeth Gould and colleagues from Princeton University also found that men undergo hormonal changes when they become fathers.

Studies in animals and people showed that new fathers experience an increase in the hormones estrogen, oxytocin, prolactin and glucocorticoids.

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