Childrearing boosts mental activities and may make men smarter by enabling them to do better tasks and planning, says a new study.
Researchers studied the effects of fatherhood on the brain of male Marmosets, small tree-dwelling monkeys that spend 70 percent of their time caring for newborns.
The result of all this baby time, according to new research by Princeton University psychologist Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy and her colleagues, is that the nurturing actually boosts the mental activity of the male Marmosets, reported the online edition of Popular Science magazine.
The researchers compared the brains of Marmoset dads with those of offspring-less monkeys. The fathers had more well-connected neurons in the prefrontal cortex, an area associated with higher-level planning and tasks.
Kozorovitskiy also identified a rise in the number of receptors for a molecule that previous research has linked to parenting. This fact, she says, suggests that the brain changes don't simply stem from the onset of the busier life that follows the arrival of a new family member, but from parenting itself.
She cautions that the work isn't directly applicable to humans, although other research has linked parenting with increased brain activity in humans. If nothing else, it could provide new dads with the ammo needed to extend their paternity leave.