See Inside July / August 2011

Maternal Mentality

Pregnancy and childbirth shape a woman's mental makeover

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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.

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