SCIENCE IS SO KEWL!!! Becoming a Father Can ‘Rewire’ a Man’s Brain
The researchers also unveiled some differences between the parents. In general, they found that the mothers displayed greater activation in the emotional processing networks, whereas the heterosexual fathers displayed greater activation in the socio-cognitive circuits that are more experience-dependent. In both cases the increased activation was correlated with oxytocin levels and behavior. According to the researchers, these results seem to suggest that while the mothers may be naturally more geared toward nurturing and protecting, which could be due to the surge of certain hormones during pregnancy and childbirth, the fathers may have to develop these qualities through experience of childrearing.
What is perhaps more intriguing is the finding that the brains of the homosexual fathers were different to that of the heterosexual fathers. They exhibited activation of the amygdala which was comparable to that of the mothers, but also activation of the superior temporal sulcus (STS) which was similar to that of heterosexual fathers. In all of the men, the connectivity between the amygdala and the STS was linked to the amount of time spent looking after the infants.
Taken together, these results strongly suggest that caregiving experience can tune the parenting networks of the fathers in a similar manner to that of mothers which likely results from processes during pregnancy and childbirth.