How becoming a dad physically changes a man's brain

If you ever doubted the brain's plasticity - it's ability to change and adapt at any age - read this:

The guy who wrote it, Christian Jarrett, has the perfect mix of experience to write it. He's a cognitive neuroscientist, a science writer and the dad of brand new twins.

As he points out, most research has been done on new moms' brains, not dads' brains.

In the study of 16 new fathers (ave. age 36 and 7 were first-time dads), the researchers took 2 brain scans: one of the men when the babies were between 2 and 4 weeks, and one 12-16 weeks later. Then they compared the scans and found:

1. Increased gray matter volume in several brain regions - including the same areas found in new moms' brains

2. Some brain regions shrunk in early fatherhood -regions considered part of the "default mode network," which activates when men "switch off" from the outside world

3. Reduced gray matter in the brain regions linked to anxiety

Granted, this was a very small group. But hopefully scientists will do these tests on more men because it's fascinating!


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