Motherhood may actually cause the brain to grow, not turn it into mush, as some have claimed.
Exploratory research published by the American Psychological Association found that the brains of new mothers bulked up in areas linked to motivation and behaviour, and that mothers who gushed the most about their babies showed the greatest growth in key parts of the mid-brain.
The researchers performed baseline and follow-up high-resolution magnetic-resonance imaging on the brains of 19 women who gave birth at Yale-New Haven Hospital, 10 to boys and nine to girls.
A comparison of images taken two to four weeks and three to four months after the women gave birth showed that grey matter volume increased by a small but significant amount in various parts of the brain. In adults, grey matter volume doesn’t ordinarily change over a few months without significant learning, brain injury or illness, or major environmental change.