New Mom, Ph.D
TIRED, OVERWHELMED WOMEN often feel as if having a baby causes their minds to turn to mush. Not so. In her new book, The Mommy Brain, Katherine Ellison cites research showing motherhood makes women smarter and more mentally agile.
There is no more challenging time in a woman’s life than when she has a baby, says Ellison, and human evolution has ensured that she is well equipped to handle it. Alert, efficient and empathetic, a mother’s mind is designed to make the species survive.
Although some of the benefits, such as heightened sensory awareness, seem to last only as long as it takes the baby to grow up, others may be lifelong. According to Ellison, the mental dexterity that mothers gain from raising their kids may translate permanently into greater empathy and assertiveness.
The New, Improved Mommy Brain:
A combination of motivation, practice and hormones gives
mothers intellectual strengths they may have never had before.
MOM’S NEW WHY SHE’S DIFFERENT WHAT’S HAPPENING
Face Reading Mothers of toddlers Mothers develop
are better at reading attention to tiny
facial expressions changes in expression
than women who and body language in
don’t have children. their kids, actually
expanding the brain’s
circuits related to
Multitasking Mother rats can During pregnancy and
simultaneously solve early motherhood, the
mazes and find food brain is bathed in
much more quickly estrogen, which
than childless rats. increases connections
in the cerebral cortex
that deal with attention
and complex tasks.
Serenity Three to six months Mothers experience
after delivery, breast- greater sensitivity to
feeding mothers are the hormone oxytocin,
less tense, less edgy what anthropologist
and less bored. Sarah Hrdy calls “the
candlelight, soft music
and a glass of wine.”
Fearlessness Rat moms will venture Elevated levels of
into broad daylight; prolactin, the
human moms will “parenting” hormone,
swim across the make mothers willing to
Rio Grande. risk their lives for
COPYRIGHT 2005 Sussex Publishers, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group