July 27, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
This post continues from yesterday’s.
The study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences continues by laying out its background.
Throughout human history and across cultures, women have typically assumed primary caregiving responsibility for infants (1, 2). Although humans are among the few mammalian species where some male parental caregiving is relatively common, father involvement varies considerably within and across cultures, adapting to ecological conditions (1, 3). Involved fathering has been linked with children's long-term physiological and social development and with increases in mothers' caregiving-related hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin (3, 4, 5, 6). In addition, animal studies demonstrated structural brain alterations in caregiving fathers (7, 8). It has been suggested that, although maternal caregiving is triggered by neurobiological processes related to pregnancy and labor, the human father's brain, similar to other biparental mammals, adapts to the parental role through active involvement in childcare (1, 2, 3). Despite growing childcare involvement of fathers (3, 5, 6), mechanisms for human fathers' brain adaptation to caregiving experiences remain largely unknown, and no study to our knowledge has examined the brain basis of human fatherhood when fathers assume primary responsibility for infant care.