Gay dads' brain activity develops just like straight parents: study

Dec 19 2017, 6:43 pm

A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the brain activity in gay dads is similar to those found in straight mothers and fathers.

The findings of the study could add to the ongoing debate over whether homosexuals should adopt and raise should children.

According to TIME, a team of researchers from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University used MRI scans to provide evidence that the brains of parents of both sexual orientations adapt during parenthood in order to provide the needed care for a child.

Researchers videotaped 89 new straight mothers and fathers and 48 gay dads while they were interacting with their newborn babies at their home. They then used MRI scans to measure the brain activity of the parents while they watched footage of them with their children. As a baseline, another MRI scan was also made while they watched footage that did not show their children.

Straight Moms

The study revealed there were slight differences between the brains of new mothers and fathers. Moms’ brain activity adapted to become more sensitive to their child’s emotional needs. Researchers saw immensely increased activity in the amygdala, the emotion-processing area of the brain.

Straight Dads

The brains of new straight dads change slightly; there is an increase in activity in their cognitive circuits so that they are able to interpret their child’s needs, especially with interpreting a baby’s cries and non-verbal cues – signals of whether they are hunger or in need of a diaper change.

Gay Dads

However, the results of gay dads’ brains were surprising to researchers as they replicated both straight mothers and fathers. They had the brain activities of both mom and dad, with emotional circuits just as active as straight mothers’, and cognitive circuits just as active as straight fathers’.

“Fathers’ brains are very plastic,” Bar-Ilan University neuroscience and psychology professor Ruth Feldman told Time Magazine. “When there are two fathers, their brains must recruit both networks, the emotional and cognitive, for optimal parenting.”


Featured Image: gay men via Shutterstock

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