Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Mommy Brain" Research by a Mother

"Mommy Brain: It's Not What You Think"
Emily Sohn, Human News, Discovery News (October 22, 2010)

"New moms may feel their brain cells dying with every cumulative hour of sleep loss. But a new study offers hope.

"In the first months after giving birth, the study found, parts of a mother's brain may actually grow. Even better news, doting mamas who gushed the most about how special and perfect their babies were showed the most growth.

"The parts of the brain that grew are involved in motivation, reward behavior and emotion regulation. That suggests that, by reshaping itself, the post-partum brain motivates a mother to take care of her baby, and then feel happy and rewarded when she does.

"The findings may eventually help women who feel disconnected from their babies or even hostile toward them in the early months, said lead author Pilyoung Kim, a developmental psychologist, now at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md...."

Some of the regions that grow are the hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala. The prefrontal cortex is where we do a lot of what we think of as 'thinking:' "mediating conflicting thoughts, making choices between right and wrong or good and bad, predicting future events, and governing social control." ("What Is the Prefrontal Cortex," wiseGEEK)

Back to the article:

"...During pregnancy and the post-partum period, women often feel their brains turning to mush. New moms report that they have trouble remembering things that they used to remember easily. It's such a common phenomenon that women often call it 'Mommy Brain.' Some research has even shown that women's brains shrink slightly during pregnancy...."

"...As for the complete loss of memories for names, trivia and other ordinary things that come with giving birth, the brains of new moms may simply have new priorities.

" 'We are clearly showing that mothers have better memories about things related to their infants,' said Kim, who has a four-month old of her own. 'There are a lot of things going on, and mothers might feel forgetful about things that are not related to their infants. It's just dependent on what is really important for us to remember at the time.' "

Offhand, the Lemming thinks that storing "trivia" in a person's head is a convenient ability - and one which can be duplicated with a pocket organizer. We don't have carry-along gadgets that can:
  • Mediate conflicting thoughts
  • Make choices between right and wrong, good and bad
  • Pedict future events
  • Govern a person's social behavior
From the Lemming's point of view, "mommy brain" is a step up. But then, I've always been a bit in awe of how my wife manages the household.

And that's another topic.


Brigid said...

Hmm. I seem to have missed this one back then: "prefrontal cortex is where do a lot of what we"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Right you are: Found, fixed & thanks!

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