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Your Brain Changes All the Time, but Being a Mom Changes It Forever

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 Biology   |   Society / Culture   |   Health   |   Science   |   Social Science
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Mother's bodies go through tons of changes before and after giving birth, but so do their brains! What really makes a mom's brain different?

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Why Moms Want to 'Gobble Up' Cute Babies
"Sometimes just holding a cute newborn will make a person say, "I want to eat you up!" New research shows that for women, there might be a biological mechanism behind that expression. The smell of a newborn baby triggers a surge of dopamine for new moms similar to the reward response that comes with satisfying a craving for food, the study researchers found. Smells are part of a network of chemical communication signals between mother and child and they can be intense, said study author Johannes Frasnelli, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Montreal."

Pregnancy changes a mother's brain for years, study shows
"Women expect the physical changes of pregnancy, yet having a baby also produces some changes in the brain. 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."

How humans bond: The brain chemistry revealed
"In new research published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Northeastern University psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett found, for the first time, that the neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in human bonding, bringing the brain's reward system into our understanding of how we form human attachments. The results, based on a study with 19 mother-infant pairs, have important implications for therapies addressing postpartum depression as well as disorders of the dopamine system such as Parkinson's disease, addiction, and social dysfunction."


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This episode of Seeker was written and hosted by Trace Dominguez.

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