How Mom's Brain Changes

A new mother’s body goes through many changes—among them, key parts of her brain get bigger. And the more these areas grow, the greater the mother-infant bond seems to be.

A project to map the brains of women before and after giving birth is providing insight into how motherhood changes the mind. "Structural changes in animal brains, says National Institutes of Health neuroscientist Pilyoung Kim, are critical to getting mothers to take care of their offspring. Similar changes in human mothers, she observes, might be necessary for attentive parenting and ultimately forming long-term emotional bonds, and now there is evidence suggesting that possibility. Using MRI, Kim and her colleagues at Yale University and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor produced detailed maps of the brains of 19 new mothers a few weeks after they gave birth...."

Related Articles

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less

Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
Keep reading Show less