Men's brain shrink after becoming fathers - Study

Alejo

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Hi guys,

As I was doing my nightly rounds, I came across the following article that I found rather interesting. At first I thought, well of course they just want to discourage becoming a father... which might still be the case, however, I found interesting how the brain reflects a change in the life events of a person, particularly the father, who does not undergo pregnancy.

But more interestingly, how not just the mere birth of their baby is reflected physiologically, but their body now reflects their emotional attitude going forward for the rest of their lives as a father. So, I don't think it's the brain shrinking that causes the a region to be less active and thus more emotionally inclined, or efficiently connected. I think it's the emotional choice that gets reflected physiologically in the brain.

You know, the whole.. birds have wings because they fly and not fly because they have wings, came to mind.

Here's the link to the study

Brain may shrink in men who become fathers

Shrinkage was detected primarily in a part of the brain known as the default mode network, associated with parental acceptance and warmth.

A joint study between the Gregorio Marañón Health Research Institute in Spain and the University of Southern California revealed that men may experience brain shrinkage when they become fathers.

Previous work showed that motherhood can produce changes in neurological structure, but did not delve into the effects that fatherhood might cause.

The recent research, published this week in the journal Cerebral Cortex, shows that the first-time parents analyzed lost on average between 1% and 2% of the volume of the cerebral cortex after the birth of their children. The shrinkage was detected mainly in a part known as the default mode network, associated with parental acceptance and warmth.

Although a brain shrinkage sounds like a negative thing, this may indicate a refinement of the brain that makes the connection with an infant stronger and more efficient.

"These findings may suggest a unique role of the visual system in helping parents recognize their infants and respond accordingly, a hypothesis that will be confirmed by future studies," the authors stated.

The research is based on magnetic resonance imaging data from 40 parents, half of whom were from Spain and half from the United States.
 

Puma

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Although a brain shrinkage sounds like a negative thing, this may indicate a refinement of the brain that makes the connection with an infant stronger and more efficient.
Many of my friends who had the experience of becoming parents changed their attitude towards life, became more responsible, looked for jobs that gave them economic security rather than satisfaction. They manage their resources better, even working longer hours.
 

irjO

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Many of my friends who had the experience of becoming parents changed their attitude towards life, became more responsible, looked for jobs that gave them economic security rather than satisfaction. They manage their resources better, even working longer hours.

Sounds like a natural genetic adaptation due that we as well the majority if not all of the species, want to maintain the genes going in the most efficient way possible. So, a healthy natural person, would want to preserve and take care of their children which would have to make some changes in their perceptions or adaptations. However, that would be the model of a healthy mentally person.
 

Michael B-C

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But more interestingly, how not just the mere birth of their baby is reflected physiologically, but their body now reflects their emotional attitude going forward for the rest of their lives as a father. So, I don't think it's the brain shrinking that causes the a region to be less active and thus more emotionally inclined, or efficiently connected. I think it's the emotional choice that gets reflected physiologically in the brain.
Interesting find Alejo that I have to say also made me laugh; dad's here may duly recognize the bountiful changes in programming upon the arrival of that bundle of life changing energy! I suspect you may be right in saying the emotional change of mind leads to adaptation within the brain itself, with shrinkage being a result of a more focused, singular attention as a necessary change - a price worth paying - to help quash the radar from maintaining its previous default of excess horizon scanning, thus bringing it to focus 'home' on what needs to be protected and developed in the here and now. You therefore lose something to gain something. Seems a fair bargain. It would be interesting to know if this was universal and to the same degree or whether those men who shall we say deliberately chose not to live up to the task and sail on into the sunset, physically remain untouched as a result. I assume by the nature of the study they ended up with want-to-be dads - a more mixed study could be an interesting follow up.
 

Alejo

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Interesting find Alejo that I have to say also made me laugh; dad's here may duly recognize the bountiful changes in programming upon the arrival of that bundle of life changing energy! I suspect you may be right in saying the emotional change of mind leads to adaptation within the brain itself, with shrinkage being a result of a more focused, singular attention as a necessary change - a price worth paying - to help quash the radar from maintaining its previous default of excess horizon scanning, thus bringing it to focus 'home' on what needs to be protected and developed in the here and now. You therefore lose something to gain something. Seems a fair bargain. It would be interesting to know if this was universal and to the same degree or whether those men who shall we say deliberately chose not to live up to the task and sail on into the sunset, physically remain untouched as a result. I assume by the nature of the study they ended up with want-to-be dads - a more mixed study could be an interesting follow up.
Right, that was one of the questions that was making its rounds in my head today as I thought about the study.

Perhaps it is the choice, to either seek to become a father or to accept the surprise fatherhood, that initiates the changes. As you're right, I have met men who seem mostly like vending machines, and who feel no apparent attachment to their offspring in any way whatsoever. For these individuals, no change in their outlook on life seems to have taken place.

So, it may be the choice at some level that changes people's outlook on life and not a mechanical change from without.
 
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