Mommy Brain

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Do you lose your thought in the middle of a sentence?  Or blank out when it comes to reciting your kid’s birthday….or even their name?  I do.  My friends and I often joke about being “educmacated” these days.  You know, once upon a time, we held intelligent conversations.  We felt a little more academic and articulate…complete with the ability to start AND finish a sentence about interesting issues.  Sleep deprivation, nutritional depletion and crazy levels of parental multi-tasking surely contribute.   

This article touches on the issue:

Indiana University study: having children significantly lowers parents’ IQs

By Mike Gaddis, THG News

A five-year study run by Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction proves what many in the scientific community have always suspected: having children significantly lowers the IQ of both male and female parents.

Researchers at the Kinsey Institute began their study in 1999 by giving 200 married couples who were planning on starting families within the next four years Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests.  By 2003, all but 27 of these couples had conceived. 

Another IQ test was given to each set of parents successful in conceiving and birthing a baby six months after their child was born.  These results were compared to the previous intelligence tests.

In every single one of the 173 cases, both parents scored at least twelve points lower on the second IQ test, with the majority of parents losing twenty or more IQ points. 

Dr. Hosung Lee, director of the study, was not surprised with the findings.  “The research proved that our hypothesis was correct.  Having children does retard one’s brain activity, and since both parents lost intelligence, we must assume that this loss has a psychological rather than biological cause.”

The IQ tests show that when a child is born, the part of the brain that makes one think objectively takes the biggest hit when it comes to losing brainpower.  “This explains why every parent thinks their child is the smartest kid in class or the best athlete, even if that child is as dumb as a box of rocks or needs a calendar to time their forty-yard dash.  People who before were intelligent and open-minded turn into raving lunatics who want to blame a teacher or coach every time their mediocre child fails,” said Lee.

Lee says the Kinsey Institute will continue to test the couples participating in the study to determine if the loss of intelligence is reversible once children grow up and leave the nest and if parents who continue having children lose even more intelligence.  -End of Article

If you are like me, more positive studies about this intelligence crisis are welcome.  Check out The Mommy Brain by journalist Katherine Ellison (synopsis from http://themommybrain.com/synopsis.html):

Filled with lively (and often hilarious) stories of multitasking moms at home and on the job, The Mommy Brain by journalist Katherine Ellison encourages all of us to cast aside conventional thinking and discover the positive ways in which having children changes mothers’ brains for the better.  Ellison draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to demonstrate that, contrary to long-established wisdom that having children dumbs you down, raising children may make moms smarter.

The Mommy Brain details five principle ways in which motherhood can improve women’s minds:

  1. Perception: A mother’s sensory-rich life with her newborn actually remaps part of her brain—improving her ability to interpret new information.
  2. Efficiency: Pregnancy and early motherhood enrich the brain, improving memory and setting a mother up for a lifetime of multitasking.
  3. Resilience: Oxytocin, a powerful hormone abundant in mothers, so effectively combats stress, clearing the way for improved learning, that scientists are studying its, potential as an anti-depressant and even as a therapy for Alzheimer’s.
  4. Motivation: The fierce biological urge to defend their children, bolstered by mind-altering hormones, helps mothers become more creative and competitive.
  5. Emotional Intelligence: Mothers get basic training in this important kind of smarts as they tone their brain’s “empathy muscles” by instinctively imitating their babies’ facial expressions.

…In addition, Ellison reports on the emerging trend of research into the maternal mind, including MRI studies in labs throughout the world. The last chapters reveal how fathers, adoptive parents and altruists share in many “Mommy Brain” benefits, and shows how motherhood in the 21st century has become a particularly brain-intensive job. Ellison goes on to demonstrate how some of today’s brainiest professional managers are recruiting and keeping women employees by providing creative and flexible arrangements that help mothers and fathers excel both at home and on the job. –

For now, I’ll embrace my “edumacated” state of mind with a little caffeine, good nutrition, exercise and lists, lists, lists.  I have faith that moms everywhere can rebound AND embrace some of the great benefits that “mommy brain” offers.  I have other moms who share this journey with me – that rocks.

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