This Mother’s Day, if you are one of the 85+ million Mothers in the US, we hope your day will be special. We wish you a belly full of chocolate and vases full of flowers, but the real impact of Motherhood will be forever held in your brain, but felt in your heart.
Neurological brain changes are what largely account for our emotional changes after becoming parents and our deep and profound love for our children. In fact, becoming a parent looks a lot like falling in love, at least in brain images.
Below, on the top strip, on can see a Mother’s brain while interacting with her child and on the bottom strip, an adult’s brain on romantic love. As is evident, the same general areas are activated in both types of love.
The areas that become particularly affected when we become parents are those that involve vigilance, where our focus and attention are given, and the areas that incentivize us to prioritize our infant. Many studies have documented that when a Mother simply looks at her infant the reward centers in her brain light up.
The greatest brain changes occur with a mother’s first child, but scientists are not sure if a mother’s brain ever reverts after the first experience. Fathers who are very involved in childcare also experience similar brain changes, except male brain changes are driven by different systems than in a female brain.
Happy Mother’s Day. Feel the love.