From an animal kingdom perspective, human dads are unusual. They belong to a group of less than 6 percent of mammal species in which fathers play a significant role in rearing offspring. In these species, paternal care often involves the same behaviors as maternal care, with the exception of nursing.
But how does fatherhood change a man’s brain? Science has only recently delved into the neural and hormonal mechanisms of paternal care, but so far the evidence suggests that mothers’ and fathers’ brains use a similar neural circuitry when taking care of their children. Moms and dads also undergo similar hormonal changes that are linked to their brain and behavior changes.
Here are five ways men’s brains change when they become fathers:
Dad’s brain looks like mom’s
Taking care of a child reshapes a dad’s brain, causing it to show the same patterns of cognitive and emotional engagement that are seen in moms.