- Although human mothers tend to complain of lost mental sharpness, recent animal studies suggest that motherhood actually improves the brain in many ways.
- Changes in a mother’s brain make women more attuned to threats as well as bolder in the pursuit of food and in the face of danger.
- Scientists can detect changes that are linked with motherhood in the structure of the brain. Among them is increased gray matter in areas involved in infant care.
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With her second child growing larger by the day, Liz is experiencing the tyranny of her pregnancy. Her belly seems impossibly huge to her. Easy sleep is a distant memory now that she must contend with tens of pounds of extra girth. With belching and heartburn following every meal, she feels as if she is subsisting on a diet of small volcanoes.
But Liz is not just any late-term mother-to-be. She is also a neuroscientist studying the changes that occur in a mother’s brain—in fact, she co-authored this article. Although it will not relieve her indigestion, she derives some comfort from a new and growing body of research that is revealing the marked and generally positive alterations that accrue to a mother’s brain.
This article was originally published with the title Maternal Mentality.