The size of a woman's brain grows after their baby is born with increased growth linked to the mother's enthusiasm and affection for their child, new research shows.
Brain scans taken of pregnant women before and after giving birth showed an increase in their mid-brain after childbirth, according to the report completed at Yale University.
'We observed small but significant increases in the volume of gray matter in the brain,' said study co-author Dr Pilyoung Kim to My Health News Daily.
Growing: Brain scans of women before giving birth and after have showed a significant growth of gray matter in their mid-brain
According to the report published in Behavioral Neuroscience in October of 2010, for adults, gray matter's volume typically does not change over a few month period, like those new mothers studied, making the findings so out of the ordinary.
Typically that kind of growth isn't seen without a brain experiencing significant learning, injury, illness, or undergoing a major environmental change.
Specifically the researchers saw its growth to the hypothalamus, substantia nigra and amygdala, parietal lobe and prefrontal cortex.
Those regions are responsible for one's emotion, reasoning and judgement, the senses, and reward behaviour, according to the report.
Affection: New mothers who showed more delight and enthusiasm over their baby showed higher growth in their brain than others
With their findings, mothers who showed more enthusiasm over their birth, describing their child using words as special, beautiful, ideal, and perfect, were found more likely to show an increase in their mid-brain opposed to others.
Dr Kim, who's currently with the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, hopes the findings can further help scientists learn what motivates some mothers more than others in caring for their children.
'We're currently researching whether giving moms oxytocin, a hormone that triggers a reward response in the brain, could influence their response to their child,' Dr. Lane Strathearn, a developmental pediatrician at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas told My Health News Daily.
Caring: The researchers hope the findings will help them understand why some mothers are better caregivers than others and how they can be helped
Dr Kim's findings further correlate to a previous report undertaken by Dr Strathearn in 2008 that showed that a baby's smile lights up a mother's reward centers in her brain, like the prefrontal cortex found in the 2010 study.
'A baby's smile is a very powerful stimulus,' said Dr Stathearn speaking to ABC News.
'It makes sense biologically. Babies are completely and utterly dependent on their caregivers. It makes sense that nature would build in a system that would reinforce that relationship,' she said.
One question researchers on the brain's growth say they are still working to figure out, however, is the reasoning behind the findings.
'We don't know whether it's the experience that changes the brain, or the brain that changes the experience,' said Dr Kim.
Her team suspects a woman's increase in hormones like estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin as possible factors as well.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2143673/Scientists-discover-motherhood-changes-brain--help-women-bond-babies.html#ixzz1ulhnUSY8