Thursday, October 21, 2010

How babies can boost your brainpower

Women sometimes complain about becoming absent-minded while they are pregnant and after giving birth but a new study by researchers at the National Institute for Mental Health in Maryland suggests that their brains might actually get bigger over this period. In a small study the researchers scanned the brains of 19 women who had just given birth and found that grey matter had grown in the hypothalamus, the amygdala, the parietal lobe and the prefrontal cortex. The hypothalamus is involved with motivation, the amygdala with reward and emotion processing, the parietal lobe with the senses and the prefrontal cortex with reasoning and judgment. Intriguingly the mothers who were most enthusiastic about their babies - seeing them as special, beautiful, ideal, perfect etc - were significantly more likely than the other mothers to show growth in areas of the brain relating to maternal motivation, reward and the regulation of emotions.

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