Investigating Postpartum Depression
The prefrontal-limbic system is a part of the brain that may be involved in maternal behavior. New mothers generally show changes in the responsiveness of the prefrontal-limbic system to infants in ways that differ from women who have not just given birth. New mothers may also show less sensitivity to stress. Additionally, women who suffer depression outside of the postpartum period show heightened responsiveness of the prefrontal-limbic system in response to stress, suggesting an overlap in circuits critical to maternal behavior and those altered by depression. It is unknown whether changes in this prefrontal limbic system are related to postpartum depression (PPD).
The mechanism for altered neural responsiveness in the postpartum period may involve oxytocin, which also occurs at higher levels in new mothers. It is hypothesized that this makes the new mother less affected, generally, by negative stressors from the outside world, but more responsive to her infant.
If you are a woman located in Bloomington, Indiana, and would like to participate in this study, you can find out more on our Research Opportunities page >>
Our volunteer, Danielle, had this comment about her experience:
"My biggest worry was drooling into a tube for the saliva sample. As it turned out, the drooling part was easy but the fMRI was a little scarier than I expected at first. Becky, the fMRI technician, warned me that it's scary for everyone, which helped - I was able to relax after just a few minutes. The process was not at all difficult and actually kind of fun. It was very cool to get pictures of my brain. I'd definitely participate in another one of these studies!"
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