Despite motherhood and successful caregiving being essential for the survival of our species, surprisingly little has been known about how the human brain adjusts to this new phase of life until recently. The new science of pregnancy and parenting has revealed how this period in adulthood involves brain changes that shape adaptation to the challenges of parenthood, underlying parental instincts, attachment, behavior, and emotions - far from the negative connotations of “mommy brain” we are familiar with. Fundamental questions remain about to what extent maternal “instincts” are truly innate, or learned. What happens when these changes do not happen so readily? What is the role of neuroscience in understanding how one learns to be a mother - and how can these ideas and data be communicated constructively?
Helena Rutherford, Assistant Professor, Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine
Pilyoung Kim, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Denver
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Beyond “Mommy Brain”: The Neuroscience of Maternal Instincts