Researchers have discovered that the brains of gay fathers appear to adapt to take on the parenting roles of traditional heterosexual mothers and fathers.
Earlier studies have shown that the brains of new mothers became extra sensitive to their children’s behaviour when they become parents.
A new Israeli study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that a similar effect appears to occur in gay fathers.
According to Reuters, neuropsychologist Ruth Feldman of Bar-Ilan University videotaped 20 new mothers, 21 heterosexual fathers and 48 gay fathers, all interacting with their children.
The parents were then shown the video footage while their brain activity was monitored.
The researchers found that all the mothers in the studies showed elevated activity in the brain’s emotion procession region that was absent when not watching the videos.
The 21 heterosexual fathers showed heightened activity in the cognitive (thinking or reasoning) elements of the brain that help interpret a baby’s cries and non verbal cues.
When it came to the 48 gay fathers raising children with their male partners, the researchers were surprised to find that they displayed brain activity found in both male and female heterosexual parents.
They also found that in gay fathers, but not the straight fathers, the brain appeared to have extra communication pathways between the emotional structures and the cognitive structures.
“Fathers’ brains are very plastic,” Feldman said. “When there are two fathers, their brains must recruit both networks, the emotional and cognitive, for optimal parenting.”