Pregnancy brain just got redefined
A study found that the grey matter in a woman’s brain changes during pregnancy. Particularly, the study found that women lose grey matter over the span of their pregnancy that is directly related to how they deal with both other’s feelings and nonverbal social cues.
The study was conducted by comparing MRI scans of both soon-to-be parents before pregnancy and after. The visuals showed how women’s grey matter lessened throughout pregnancy, but researchers are hesitant to say that this has solely negative connotations.
“Loss of volume does not necessarily translate to loss of function,” said Elseline Hoekzema, co-lead author of the study and a senior brain scientist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, to CNN. “Sometimes less is more.”
Further explanation of the results had the authors explaining that the lessening could be correlated to more of a condensing of the brain’s neural networks to make them more effective post-pregnancy.
“It’s making things more organized, streamlined, coherent to prepare mothers for the complexity and urgency of childcare,” explained Robert Froemke of New York University’s Langone Medical Center, to Healthline. “If neurons are closer together, or neural connections reorganized to disregard irrelevant synapses and preserve important synapses, or otherwise able to more effectively, reliably, and rapidly process critical information, it’s easier to imagine why this might make sense, and help the maternal brain respond to the needs of her baby.”