A woman undergoes a lot of physical and mental changes when pregnant, according to a study, the changes that pregnancy has on woman’s brain are "long-lasting” and beneficial.
According to the study, published in Nature Neuroscience, claims to provide the first evidence "that pregnancy confers long-lasting changes in a woman's brain," some alterations lasted at least two years, but did not appear to erode memory or other mental processes.
Pregnancy brings changes to "concern brain areas associated with functions necessary to manage the challenges of motherhood," study co-author Erika Barba-Muller of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) said in a statement.
The study compared pre- and post-pregnancy brain scans of 25 first-time mothers. They researchers also looked at the brains of first-time fathers, as well as men and women with no children. It found "pronounced and long-lasting GM (grey matter) volume reductions in a woman's brain" in pregnancy, in regions involved in social processes.
In later tests, these same regions lit up most on scans measuring the women's responses to their babies. The brain changes were likely an adaptation for motherhood-- boosting the ability to recognise the needs and emotional state of a baby and decode potential threats to its health and safety, said the researchers.
Grey matter is found in the brain's wrinkly outer layer called the cerebral cortex, which houses the processes of learning and memory, motor function, social skills, language and problem solving.
The researchers, however, "did not observe any changes in memory or other cognitive functions during the pregnancies and therefore believe that the loss of grey matter does not imply any cognitive defects," said a UAB statement.
The study tested the women up to two years after pregnancy, so it is not clear how long the changes last.
(With inputs from agencies)