The news of Marissa Mayer taking on the role of CEO of Yahoo while pregnant led to my interest in researching the changes that occur in a pregnant woman’s brain. Most of the research on the brain in pregnancy involves the evaluating the effects of nutrition and environmental chemicals on the developing brain of the fetus and newborn.
Some newer research focuses on changes in the brain of the mother herself. In addition to studying postpartum depression, research is exploring other changes in the maternal brain. Some of these changes are not necessarily good or bad; they just happen. This exciting and still-developing area of research focuses on the effects of naturally released hormones on the brains of women and how this physical change affects their behavior.
These studies provide some examples:
A review of the impact of pregnancy on memory function. (Link)
Altered prefrontal cortical function during processing of fear-relevant stimuli in pregnancy. (Link)
Antenatal psychobiological predictors of psychological response to childbirth. (Link)
Attentional processing of infant emotion during late pregnancy and mother-infant relations after birth. (Link)
Emotional sensitivity for motherhood: late pregnancy is associated with enhanced accuracy to encode emotional faces. (Link)
Executive functioning and general cognitive ability in pregnant women and matched controls. (Link)
Physiological blunting during pregnancy extends to induced relaxation. (Link)
Psychological correlates of prenatal attachment in women who conceived after in vitro fertilization and women who conceived naturally. (Link)
The effect of pregnancy on hypnotizability. (Link)