‘Mommy brain’ may not exist, report says

Scientists say the idea of “mommy brain” may be both wrong and unfair to moms.
Scientists say the idea of “mommy brain” may be both wrong and unfair to moms.(Source: CNN)
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:30 AM EST
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(CNN) - A team of scientists say suggesting motherhood is associated with a decline in cognitive abilities, such as in the phrase “mommy brain,” may be both wrong and unfair to moms.

The three authors of the article published Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology say few studies have tried to investigate whether moms suffer from memory loss during pregnancy and postpartum. But those that have have failed to find significant differences in the cognitive abilities of women who have kids and women without kids.

However, eight out of 10 new moms say they’ve experienced memory loss and brain fog, popularly characterized as “mommy brain,” “pregnancy brain” or “momnesia.”

So why the discrepancy?

It may be the peace and quiet of the labs where most studies are performed have taken moms out of a state of “mommy brain.” Without screaming children and a long to-do list, thinking becomes easier.

It’s also possible that people are too quick to judge new moms, who are often overworked and sleep-deprived, CNN reports.

Or maybe scientists are simply asking the wrong questions.

Having children reshapes neural connections in women’s brains to prepare them for parenting. In related tasks, moms show a boost in learning and improvement in long-term memory versus women without kids, according to the study’s authors.