AS ANY parent will tell you, once you have had children nothing is ever quite the same. Including, it seems, their mothers’ brains. In a paper just published in Nature Neuroscience, a team led by Elseline Hoekzema of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in Spain, describe for the first time how pregnancy alters women’s brains, rewiring them in ways that persist long after a child has been born.
Dr Hoekzema and her colleagues performed detailed brain scans on 65 female volunteers, none of whom had been pregnant before, but hoped to be in the near future, and a further 20 who had no such desire. About 15 months later, by which time 25 of their volunteers had carried babies to term, they repeated the process.
Comparing the scans showed significant reductions in the volume of grey matter in the brains of the new mothers. (Grey matter contains the main bodies of nerve cells; white matter, the brain’s other component, consists mostly of the nerve fibres that link those cells together.) The effect was reliable enough that it could be used by itself to predict, with perfect accuracy, which of the women had…Continue reading
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