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How much does so-called 'mummy brain' depend on your being a biological mother?

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Dr Jodi Pawluski
Counsellor and neuroscientist

Did you know that the changes found in the brain during and after pregnancy are so widespread that it is actually possible to tell if a woman has recently had a baby through a brain scan? But how much does so-called ‘mummy brain’ depend on your being a biological mother?

Simply put, we just don’t have the research yet to give a firm answer. But from the little we do have, it seems that if you’re the primary carer of a child then your brain will change for a lifetime. Pretty amazing, right? If you are not the biological mother, these changes might take place more slowly - but they will come.⁠

After all, no one gives birth knowing what they’re doing anyway. There’s no switch that turns on in your brain when you have a baby. You have to learn things quickly. And that brain plasticity is what parental brain is all about, really.