We’ve known for quite a while that parenthood facilitates changes in mom’s brain that help her be more nurturing. It turns out that being a hands-on parent changes dad’s brain too!
“Our findings add to the evidence that fathers, and not just mothers, undergo hormonal changes that are likely to facilitate increased empathy and motivation to care for their children,” said lead author Dr. James Rilling, an Emory University anthropologist and director of the Laboratory for Darwinian Neuroscience.
The study found that oxytocin, known to be the primary hormone in bonding, is more present in involved dads and that increased levels of this hormone stimulate the brain in unique ways. Specifically…
This heightened activity in the caudate nucleus, dorsal anterior cingulate and visual cortex suggests that doses of oxytocin may augment feelings of reward and empathy in fathers, as well as their motivation to pay attention to their children, according to the study’s findings.
The study goes on to suggest that oxytocin therapy–in which a father is dosed with a nasal spray containing oxytocin–could be a helpful treatment for dads experiencing paternal postnatal depression (PPND–which affects up to 25% of new fathers) and makes it difficult for some dads to adequately connect with their children.
To learn more about becoming a father after God’s own heart, check out The Be-DAD-itudes: 8 Ways to Be An Awesome Dad