Thinking like mom: Fatherhood makes male brains more maternal

Image credit: @dorthyray

The amount of time bat-eared fox fathers spend monitoring their young is an even bigger predictor of pup survival than maternal investment or food availability. Dads, at least in this species, matter.

But what determines whether a dad will be so devoted? Defining paternal dedication is a fraught field of study, but according to scientists, much of paternal behavior seems to boil down to just a few brain basics.

Because the entry into fatherhood isn’t cued with the same slew of physiological changes that accompany pregnancy and motherhood, the biological and chemical bases of paternal behavior have remained somewhat mysterious. However, recent discoveries show that, across vertebrates, the recipe for a good dad is actually pretty clean-cut: think more like mom. “As males become paternal, [their brains] become more like females’,” says [primate biologist] Toni Ziegler.

Related article:  Artificial intelligence can determine your ‘brain age’ by analyzing MRI scans

These changes include increases in a few hormones that have massive effects on the brain: oxytocin, estrogen, prolactin and vasopressin. Oxytocin, famously nicknamed the “cuddle hormone,” appears to play a well-established role in parent-infant bonding, particularly in the days following birth. For instance, recent research shows that male non-human primates making more oxytocin seem to be more responsive to needy infants.

For many mammals, having a nurturing father tends to have long-lasting effects on the physical and behavioral health on kids. In several mammals, male investment increases offspring litter sizesurvival and sociability.

Read full, original post: This Is Your Brain on Fatherhood

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend