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08th Apr 2015

Uh, oh. A new study says there’s no such thing as ‘baby brain’

It's all in the mind, apparently

Did you suffer from ‘baby brain’ when you were pregnant? According to a new study, there’s no such thing and the condition is all in the mind. Not convinced? Me neither, given that I sometimes feel like I still have it – almost 15 months after giving birth.

Neuroscientists at Brigham Young University in the US asked a group of pregnant women to take a three-hour assessment during their third trimester, and another between three and six months after giving birth.

Across every type of brain function measured – memory, thinking, organisational and spatial skills – women who were pregnant or had given birth performed just as well as a comparison group of women with no history of pregnancy. Except when it came to the grades they gave themselves. Pregnant and post-partum women consistently rated their memory and quality of life lower than the comparison participants.

“I was surprised at how strong the feeling was that they weren’t performing well,” said Michael Larson, lead author of the study. “This feeling of ‘I really am doing badly right now’ exists despite the objective evidence that they aren’t.”

In fact, he sees potential benefits to realising it’s all in the mind. “Somebody might learn about this and say, ‘I am thinking OK even though I am pregnant’.

“It might improve their quality of life, it might improve how they are functioning – they might start believing in themselves.”

I don’t know about you but I’m much more inclined to believe a study published last year that supports the the ‘baby brain’ phenomenon. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London said that pregnant women show increased activity in the area of the brain related to emotional skills as they prepare to bond with their babies. Yes, that makes much more sense (even with baby brain).