Study finds gay dads’ brains act like mothers’ and fathers’ brains at the same time

Researchers recorded the brain activity of 48 gay fathers when they could see their kids and compared that to the brain activity of heterosexual mothers and fathers and found they displayed similarities to both

Study finds gay dads’ brains act like mothers’ and fathers’ brains at the same time
27 May 2014

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) this week has shown parenthood changes the brain activity of gay fathers in ways that mimic the brains of heterosexual mothers and fathers.

Researchers videotaped 89 new mothers and fathers interacting with their infants at home and then measured the parents’ brain activity while watching videos of their kids to see how they would react.

In the 20 mothers in the study, watching their babies triggered heightened activity in the brain’s emotion-processing regions, particularly in the amygdala, which was five times more active than when they watching videos that were not of their kids

For the 21 heterosexual fathers, watching their infant increased activation of cognitive circuits, particularly a structure that interprets a baby’s cries and non-verbal cues.

However the 48 gay fathers raising children with their husbands showed both an increase in emotional sensitivity and cognitive focus simultaneously.

The researchers also tested the levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin in all the parents and found no difference among the three groups.

The study was intended to build on previous research showing that the brains of new mothers change become hyper-reactive to their child’s cries and other emotional cues.

It was not clear if that change was a result of the hormonal and other changes that accompany pregnancy or a response to the experience of parenthood.

This new research appears to show that the experience of parenthood changes a person’s brain activity whether they are a biological parent or not.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Straight couple arrested for gay sex in Tanzania

A 24-year-old male and 23-year-old female could face life imprisonment
No thumbnail available

Gay Belgium PM accused of ‘outrageous’ topless shot

Rival politicians and right-wing broadcasters have accused the popular prime minister Elio Di Rupo of being 'shameless' by appearing shirtless
No thumbnail available

Gay film-maker wins best film at India's Oscars

Surprise win for independent film at Bollywood's biggest awards bash
No thumbnail available

Trailblazer: Dr Christian Jessen – 'I was arrested in Uganda for being a spy'

The Embarrassing Bodies star on his life in travel – from horseback riding in Costa Rica to a gay cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 plus his traumatic experience inside an African jail at age 19...
No thumbnail available

Banned anal exams still being used in Lebanon to test if men are gay

Despite a Lebanese Order of Physicians ban on subjecting suspected homosexuals to humiliating anal examinations, police continue to use doctors who engage in the practice to try to prove that people are gay
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Italy gay politician: 'In D&G's lofty position, they don't understand gay hate kills'

Nichi Vendola said he dreams of getting married and having children
No thumbnail available

Gay UK priest faces wrath of angry bishops over his marriage

UK priest Jeremy Pemberton has had some of his duties as a priest revoked by bishops because he is in a same-sex marriage with another man
No thumbnail available

Denmark celebrates green light for gay weddings

Danish churches celebrate gay and lesbian couples being able to get married inside their buildings