We’ve always known Mama Bear mode was a real thing, but new research in rats confirms that when it comes to decision-making, being a mother will make you prioritize caring for your children over most everything else.
It’s not necessarily news to us mothers. We know that when it comes to decision-making, the second that little human is ours, we start looking at the world differently. Every decision we make takes their lives and consequences into account, and that sometimes even comes at the price of overlooking favorable decisions for ourselves.
But now, research published in eNeuro, the open-access journal of the Society For Neuroscience, confirms that the brain of a mom takes on changes when motherhood come along, and works strongly to attach decision-making to choices that prioritize their children.
Related: Meeting my Mama Bear
The researchers were investigating the role of motherhood when it comes to decision-making and the engagement of drug seeking-or using. As making decisions uses the prefrontal cortex and requires the brain to essentially weed out multiple streams of information to make the best choice, in mothers who use or were using cocaine, this may be affected. Cocaine and other drug use also affect the prefrontal cortex, making decision-making difficult when one’s priority is to continue to seek drugs.
The research team wanted to see what would happen hypothetically if drug-using mothers had to choose between their drug-seeking or their new child, as cocaine use in postpartum women is a health problem that can tragically impact her ability to care for her child properly, not to mention have a life-long impact on both child and mother. They wanted to look at the impact of maternal motivation a mother has can help provide resistance to drug-seeking behavior and be a part of a highly effective therapy program.