It's no secret that becoming a parent is life changing in a number of ways, but according to a study recently published in Nature Neuroscience, pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure. According to Popular Science, "brain scans of new moms showed that the areas involved in procesing social information got re-wired after their first pregnancy, and those changes lasted for at least two years. The changes may help new moms bond with and take care of their babies."
Researchers at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona compared the MRI scans of 25 women before and after their first pregnancies. They discovered first time mothers showed reduced gray matter volumes in regions of the brain that are involved in understanding the thoughts, emotions, desires, and motivations of others. Neither first-time fathers nor women who had never had children experienced this sort of brain change, so the researchers have attributed this change to pregnancy.
Popular Science reports that changes in these areas "may help the new mom to recognize what her infant needs, to form a healthy mother-infant bong, and for the baby to grow up emotionally healthy."
"I would suspect that the changes may be permanent," postdoctoral researcher Elseline Hoekzema says, "but this is pure speculation at this point."
Read more about Hoekzema's reserach here.