Researchers found changes in the brains of fathers from prenatal to postpartum that did not emerge in childless men followed across the same time period.
Does fatherhood reshape the brain of men in ways that motivate their parenting? Researchers set out to investigate this question in a recent study of first-time fathers.
To learn more about plasticity in new dads’ brains, research groups at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Gregorio Marañón in Madrid, associated with the BeMother project, recruited 40 men – 20 in Spain and 20 in California – and put each into an MRI scanner twice: first during their partner’s pregnancy, and again after their baby was six months old. The study also included a control group of 17 childless men.
Researchers found several significant changes in the brains of fathers from prenatal to postpartum that did not emerge in the childless men followed across the same period. In both the Spanish and Californian samples, fathers’ brain changes appeared in regions of the cortex that contribute to visual processing, attention and empathy toward the baby.
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