Saturday, July 12, 2008

Payback time for moms

The female brain is a dynamic structure, which expresses its plasticity most readily following reproductive experience.
---from the Department of Psychology-Neuroscience, University of Richmond


According to research out of the University of Virginia(1), there may be psychological compensation for all those sleepless nights, saggy breasts, and stretch marks that accompany motherhood. Those tedious months of pregnancy, suckling, and pup-rearing...oh right, we're talking rats here.

Neuroscientist Dr. Craig Kinsley and colleagues proved that mother rats adapted better to the stress of confinement in a Plexiglas restraint tube than their female colleagues who'd not yet coped with the demands of ungrateful offspring. Did they consider that lady rats--married, with children--may have just been grateful for the relative peace and quiet afforded by those Plexiglas walls? Speaking from my current perspective of mom to one teenager on site for summer, I would easily adapt, right here, right now, to voluntary confinement at an air-conditioned hotel.

The researchers conclude: "The data suggest that reproductive (hormonal) and/or maternal (pup exposure) experience may inure a female and her brain to stress, rendering her less susceptible to the behavioral-or other-disruptions that stress sensitivity can produce."
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(1)Wartella, J et al. Single or multiple reproductive experiences attenuate neurobehavioral stress and fear responses in the female rat.Physiol Behav 2003 Aug;79(3):373-81.

4 comments:

rlbates said...

Hang in there.

Cilicious said...

So some rats were in Plexiglas isolation, but some not?
Heh--sounds like some Rodent Red Tent or something.
It does get better, Doc. I have the younger kid here until August, and he is a breeze compared to his dear older brother, who gave me permanent maternal scars.
Now if the spouse and I could just agree on what to do about air conditioning...

KGMom said...

Love it.
These scientific studies usually have a tidbit or two for we humans who read them.
Yup--I can see where plexiglass would have been a very welcome addition at points along the way, as my children grew up.

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