Proper parental care is paramount for the healthy development of infants. Yet, despite its importance, there is much regarding human parental care that remains unknown. For example, it has been reported that there are crucial differences between the brains of non-parents and parents. When and how do these differences arise? What factors mediate them? How do individual differences in parental behaviours relate to structural and functional differences in the brain of parents? Could postnatal parental behaviours be predicted from prenatal parental phenotypes and/or neurobiological traits?
In particular, paternal behaviour has been historically less studied than maternal behaviour, and more variable. By studying how the parental brain forms, we may gain a deeper, more practical insight into this process. We may be able to understand what factors lead to improper parental care (e.g., infant neglect, abuse, etc), and propose programs and timely interventions to prevent this outcome.
Keywords: parental brain, human caregiving network, structural and functional MRI