Report: Fatherhood messes with your brain

There’s a part (right after the funny non-parent stuff – you know, the dentist, booze and drugs) in Bill Cosby’s Himself where he talks about how, before kids, he and his wife used to be intellectuals. After that, well, that’s the whole rest of the movie.

And in some respects that’s true of Ms. Kaz and myself. Oh, it isn’t that we just don’t have the time for intellectual pursuits. We could find the time. But something else is going on. I really feel a little dumber since my daughter was born. Maybe it is the lack of sleep? Maybe it is the frustration of dealing with a 2 year old in the throes of the terrible twos? Maybe it is reading books with big letters and lots of pictures, listening to songs by the Wiggles, and watching too much Blue’s Clues? Maybe having a child really does kill brain cells?

Then I saw this research study by Elizabeth Gould at Princeton University. This study showed (at least in monkeys, but that’s close enough to human fathers) that having a child does change a father’s brain. I knew it!

The study showed that, “fathers had a higher density of connections in a region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex than nonfathers.” Uhm. Sure.

But wait! There’s more! The study also found that “[F]athers also had more of a particular hormone receptor in this region for vasopressin, which is thought to be involved in parental behavior and social bonding.” Blah blah blah. Whatever.

I’m sure they are just leaving out the part about our kids making us stupid. Don’t believe me? Ask your kid when she’s a teenager just how dumb you really are.

For now, I’ll enjoy my daughter saying, “Daddy’s smart!” when I can find her socks under the couch.


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