What Makes Moms' Brains Better?
With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday, the scientists at Posit Science, developers of the brain fitness program BrainHQ, have reviewed millions of data points from people training their brains to determine if there are any cognitive abilities that Moms are notably better at than the rest of the population. To their surprise, it turns out there are.
"We've had people complete millions of levels of brain training in BrainHQ as they sharpen their memory, attention, and brain speed," said Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science. "With this data in hand, we believed we could finally answer the 'what makes Moms so great?' with the tools of modern brain science."
"We know that most of the women who use BrainHQ are mothers. So we went through our database to look for cognitive functions in which women were significantly outperforming men when they began their first brain training courses."
The scientists found that women do better on tests of "social cognition" – the ability of the brain to recognize familiar faces, to connect names and people, and to identify emotions from facial expression. Scientific interest in social cognition has grown tremendously over the past twenty years, as neuroscientists have identified specific areas of the brain responsible for how we interact, remember, and get along with other people.
Neuroscientists know that the brain rewires itself in response to experience – a phenomenon researchers call "brain plasticity." So does that mean that Moms have trained their brains to be better at social skills?
"Moms often take on a larger role in organizing the social life of a family," said Frances Mahncke , Mom of Posit Science CEO Henry Mahncke, "planning play dates, organizing family get-togethers, and keeping up with other parents. Between that and the multi-tasking that any Mom has to do, it's a lot of brain work."
The science team at Posit Science took the analysis a step further, and looked to see if improvement in social cognition was possible with the right kind of brain training.
"We recently launched social cognition training exercises on BrainHQ. The great news is that anyone can improve at these skills – we see typical improvements of 10 to 20 percent, with some people improving much more. These kinds of gains show that Moms can exercise their brains to get even sharper – and Dads can catch up."
Is there anything that men are better at?
"We are still poring over the data," said Dr. Mahncke, "but I am pretty sure we will have an answer to that before Father's Day. "
You can try your hand at the brain exercises at brainhq.com. The company is offering a Mother's Day special for people who want to do the exercises with their moms.