Pregnancy alters the size and structure of brain regions involved in understanding the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and intentions of others, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Mothers with the greatest degree of overall brain change scored higher than others when tested on the strength of their maternal bonds, the researchers discovered. Many of the changes lasted two years after giving birth.
"I think that an increase in myelin rather than a decrease in gray matter volume is a highly plausible alternative interpretation of their results," said Van Essen, noting that no matter how the results are interpreted, "there is reasonably strong evidence that 'something' is different in the brains of postpartum women."
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