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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

A hug is duct tape for the soul.

From Time:
Take heart, new moms: you may be feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and distracted, but your brain is actually growing. Especially if you're the kind of mom who's been driving your friends and family mad by talking about how perfect, special and beautiful your new child is.

Despite the fact that the term "mommy brain" typically describes mindless behavior — like putting the milk away in the closet and your hat in the fridge — a new study published in Behavioral Neuroscience finds that women's brains may actually get bigger during new motherhood. The study's authors took brain scans of 19 moms two to four weeks after birth and again two to four months later, and found that their brains showed growth in midbrain regions involved with the experience of pleasure and in the prefrontal cortex, which is linked to reasoning, planning and judgment.

New mothers who seemed to take more pleasure and joy in their role as parent — selecting from a list of adjectives more positive words like "ideal" to describe their infants, and words such as "proud" and "blessed" to describe their experience of parenthood — saw greater growth in their emotion-processing regions.

"This is a nice study," says Dr. Bruce Perry, a child psychiatrist and senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy, who was not involved with the research (full disclosure: Perry and I have written two books together). "It is exactly what you would expect knowing what we do about how neural systems respond to patterns of activation. The [parallel] parts in the [baby's] brain...would be much more likely to be getting repetitive stimulation from the somatosensory input from the loving mother — and I would predict [these kinds of] changes in the mother's brain as well. Love can change the brain."
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