NEUROLOGY

Parenting Rewires the Male Brain

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Science  06 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6188, pp. 1129
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6188.1129-h

Women aren't the only gender hardwired for parenthood: Caring for children awakens similar brain circuits in men. Abraham et al. investigated two family types: mother-father couples with the mother as primary caregiver, and homosexual male couples sharing caregiving. The team videotaped parents and children together, then the parents underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scanning. All showed activation of a “parenting network,” including an amygdala-centered network that handles strong emotions and reward, and regions handling learning and experience. In the traditional couples, mothers showed stronger activation in the amygdala network and fathers in experience-dependent regions (amygdala activation was proportional to time spent with the baby). But activity in the homosexual fathers' brains mirrored the mothers' brain activity.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1402569111 (2014).

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