With the help of a fertility specialist, a sixty-five-year-old woman has a baby. Of course, all her relatives come to meet the newest member of their family. However, when they ask to see the newborn, the senior mother says, “Not yet.” A little while later they make the same request and get the same response, “Not yet.” Finally they utter, “Well, when can we see the baby?” The elderly women replies, “When the child cries.” They inquire, “And why do we have to wait until the infant cries?” The grey-haired mom says, “Because I forget where I put it!”
Popular wisdom has always been that expecting a baby reduces the size of a woman’s brain. The condition has even been given terms such as: “pregnancy brain”, “preg-nesia”, “mom-nesia”, “baby brain”, “mother-mush”, etc. But now new research is proving such thinking to be nothing more than an old wive’s tale.
It all began with an experiment in which scientists compared the behaviour of virgin female rats with those of female rats with litters. The rodents were placed in similar enclosures containing a cricket (a tasty rat snack) hidden under wood chips. And they discovered that the virgins took nearly four minutes to find the cricket and eat it, compared with less than a minute for the mothers to do the same. Soon thereafter, researchers, using the very latest in hi-tech brain scanners began to measure the size of the brains of women before they got pregnant-and-birthed compared to the size of their brain after they got pregnant-and-birthed.
What they found was the very opposite of conventional thought, motherhood doesn’t reduce the size of a woman’s brain, it increases it and does so quickly and significantly. These findings were then published in The Journal Of Behaviour Neuroscience and presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Phil Kim, the neuroscientist who led the study for the National Institute of Health, stated –
“This concept may seem counter-intuitive because the dimming of brain power is still viewed as a side effect of motherhood. But far from transforming mothers into weakened intellectual and emotional wrecks, it turns out that having children makes them a lot smarter; it was just hard to spot because of all that lost sleep.”
Further support for this research is provided by author Katherine Ellison, the Pulitzer-Prize winning science research journalist, in her book, The Mommy Brain.
“There is no other time in a woman’s life when she needs to be quite as smart as when she is looking after young children and this challenge is so great that it stimulates brain activity with noticeable increases in new brain cell production.”
Researchers then wondered, would the same be true for men? But the answer is no. The male brain basically remains the same size after fatherhood as before.
The bottom line? It all proves what every pastor knows – “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of preacher.”