Pregnancy doesn’t just leave stretch marks. It changes a woman’s brain in ways that are “pronounced and long-lasting” and that appear to help new mothers bond with their babies. Those are the striking conclusions from a study published this month in Nature Neuroscience that the authors say is the first evidence of its kind.
My reporting and writing on science, health, learning, parenting and other subjects has appeared in many publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American Mind, Parents, and Redbook. Here are some selected articles ranging from my latest work to a few old favorites.
Picture two female chimpanzees hanging out under a tree. One grooms the other, systematically working long fingers through fur, picking out bugs and bits of leaves. The recipient sprawls sleepily on the ground, looking as relaxed as someone enjoying a spa day. A subsequent surreptitious measurement of her levels of oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and pleasure, would confirm that she is pretty happy.
And why not? Grooming appears to be a pleasurable way to spend time. Many species of apes and monkeys devote long chunks of the day to it. Among other things, grooming can curry favor and strengthen alliances so it is likely that of these two chimps, the female being primped is of equal or greater rank in the troop than the one doing the work.