Human Maternal Brain Plasticity: Adaptation to Parenting

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


New mothers undergo dynamic neural changes that support positive adaptation to parenting and the development of mother–infant relationships. In this article, I review important psychological adaptations that mothers experience during pregnancy and the early postpartum period. I then review evidence of structural and functional plasticity in human mothers’ brains, and explore how such plasticity supports mothers’ psychological adaptation to parenting and sensitive maternal behaviors. Last, I discuss pregnancy and the early postpartum period as a window of vulnerabilities and opportunities when the human maternal brain is influenced by stress and psychopathology, but also receptive to interventions.

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