UNITED STATES: According to a group of international experts, new father’s may undergo major neurological changes, demonstrating that, like moms, men’s brains may alter throughout parenthood.
In a recent study, the researchers discovered that new father’s typically experienced a loss of one to two percentage points in cortical volume after the birth of their first child. This shrinking, which was mostly restricted to the brain’s “default mode network,” was much less dramatic and consistent than in women.
The region is best recognised for being active while a person is not paying attention to the outside world, such as during daydreaming and mind-wandering; this region is also connected to parental acceptance and warmth.
While this volume reduction may seem alarming, scientists contend that it may simply be a sign of brain maturation that makes it possible to communicate with children more effectively. Similar cortical volume decreases in women are linked to better parent-child bonding and stronger brain reactions to the child.
Although earlier studies have shown that father’s brains experience slight neurological changes, the information currently available is contradictory. While some studies found that the father’s grey matter shrank after having a child, other studies found that it actually grew.
Few studies have distinguished between males without children, first-time father’s, and father’s of many children; however, studies have discovered changes in various brain regions.
Researchers examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from 40 heterosexual first-time father’s, half of whom were based in Spain and half in the US, in one of the most thorough studies on the subject. Before and again, a few months after the babies were born, the study had brain scans done on several prospective father’s.
The father’s across the Atlantic underwent brain scans in the middle to end of their partner’s pregnancy and again seven to eight months after the baby was born.
The researchers also scanned 17 childless men as a control group, collecting information from all three groups to account for volume, thickness, and structural characteristics.
According to the study, men’s brains are nonetheless impacted by motherhood even though they do not bear the children themselves. Recent research has demonstrated that men can experience postpartum depression like women.
“These findings may suggest a unique role of the visual system in helping father’s to recognise their infants and respond accordingly,” the paper’s authors, published in the Journal Cerebral Cortex wrote. Future research will be needed to confirm this hypothesis.
It is still completely unknown how structural changes brought about by paternity affect parenting and child outcomes, opening up fascinating possibilities for future study.