Upon becoming fathers, men lose gray matter to accommodate the arrival of their children

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⇧ [VIDÉO] You may also like this couple content (after the ad) Pregnancy is an important transition in a woman’s life as her body, including the brain, adapts through major physiological changes. The neural changes would induce a progressive psychic construction linked to the attachment of the mother to her child, in a kind of psychological preparation. But what about the father? One of the few studies addressing the issue revealed, for the first time, that neural adaptation phenomena also occur in the father during the transition to fatherhood. In particular, there would be a reduction in cortical volume and a thinning of its surface. These changes would be linked to the responses to their children’s visual signals, and would probably be at the origin of a progressive construction of a father-child psychic bond. During pregnancy, some women sometimes become less attentive, less focused and develop memory problems. On the other hand, they can become real “sponges”, as if their emotional capacities had suddenly increased. These phenomena are due to an important transition in the whole organism. Studies have focused on these events and revealed that in pregnant women, the brain would undergo changes such as a loss of volume and gray matter, even two years after giving birth. This great brain plasticity would especially allow the mother to be physiologically and psychologically prepared for the care of the child. Some hypotheses suggest that the development of the maternal instinct follows from this. These brain changes would be of hormonal origin and would occur at the level of the regions involved in social interactions including perception, the interpretation of desires, emotions, etc. Contrary to some popular beliefs and myths (such as single neuron syndrome), this is by no means a disabling condition, as the loss of gray matter could represent a beneficial process of maturation or specialization at a critical time in life. In addition, strong neural activity was recorded in specific areas of the brain when the mothers looked at photos of their babies, suggesting a positive effect. Regarding fatherhood, however, very few studies have focused on studying brain changes in men who become fathers. However, some research has found that sensitive parenting behavior has a positive impact on infant development. According to a new international study, a man’s transition to fatherhood would also induce important preparatory physiological phenomena. Led by the Gregorio Marañón Health Research Institute (in Spain), the new study in question is one of the few dedicated to the neuroanatomical adaptations of men in transition to fatherhood. The results, published in the Oxford Academic journal (a synthesis of two studies), suggest for the first time that brain changes similar to those of mothers occur in fathers. The latter would also suffer a biological disorder when they become parents, in order to also adapt (psychologically) to the arrival of their children. Loss of cortical and subcortical volume Specifically, the new study observes how parental experience can influence brain plasticity, even when the pregnancy is not directly experienced, which is the case of the father. The analyzes were performed on a first group of 20 parents before and after the birth of their first children. The second group (control) consisted of 17 childless men. The main aim of the observations was to determine whether fatherhood caused anatomical changes in the brain in terms of overall volume, cortical thickness and subcortical volume. The results showed that in the father, cortical and subcortical volumes decreased significantly. Cortical “surface” would also have decreased in the new parents. Next, the researchers wanted to see if the course of these changes was related to the children’s age, and if the father’s brain responses differed if the babies were not his own. They then found that greater reductions in volume and thickness in the cerebral cortex were linked to stronger responses (brain activity) when the father looked at a photo of his child, even after birth. The responses, however, were completely different with the pictures of other children. Source: Oxford Academic
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