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Study: Fathers’ brains shrink after their first child is born

According to Spanish and American researchers, parents who become parents for the first time suffer from a decrease in the size of the cerebral cortex. While this information may be alarming, it is actually very positive and shows how the body is preparing for the arrival of the baby.

Men who become fathers for the first time may experience brain shrinkage, according to a recent study published by the University of Oxford, the journal Cerebral Cortex.

The first scientific papers in this field were published in 2016. Then researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands demonstrated that after the birth of a child, the structure of a woman’s brain changes in areas involved in processing social cues.

Scientists from Spain and the United States showed similar changes in men.

Reduced volume of the cerebral cortex

A new study found that in men who became fathers for the first time, the size of the cerebral cortex decreased by 1 to 2%. Changes have occurred in areas related to parental care.

Although the information may seem negative, in fact it can improve the functioning of the brain. According to the researchers, the change makes contact with the child more intense and natural.

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To find changes in the brain, the researchers analyzed the results of MRI studies in 40 men. 20 from the United States, 20 from Spain. Their results were compared with 17 men in Spain who had no children. Fathers in Spain underwent brain scans before their partners became pregnant, and then a few months after their child was born. In the United States, MRI scans were done while the couple was pregnant and then seven or eight months after the baby was born.

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The results of the study, when analyzed together with the study of childless men, indicated brain plasticity and “overlapping trends in cortical volume reduction” in the region responsible for social comprehension.

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The researchers summarized their analyzes with the statement that women’s bodies not only adapt to changes associated with the arrival of a child. This also applies to men, which is why they play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren.

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