Everyone knows that having a kid changes your life. But mentally? The only major things I noticed was gaining the ability to live on less sleep and losing the ability to do moderately difficult math in my head (this never came back).

Apparently, having kids might not just “make you crazy”:

“No one can deny that becoming a dad is a life-changing experience. And despite an increase in sleepless nights and newly acquired diaper-changing duties, most would agree that it’s a deeply enriching and positive one. New findings by brain researcher Kelly Lambert, professor and chair of the psychology department at Randolph-Macon College, suggest that fatherhood may change more than just a man’s lifestyle – it may actually cause lasting benefits in his brain.”

[From ScienCentralNews via Digg]

This is similar to what researchers have found in females (in both cases using animals in place of humans):

“Some of these sites are involved in regulating maternal behaviors such as building nests, grooming young and protecting them from predators. Other affected regions, though, control memory, learning, and responses to fear and stress. Recent experiments have shown that mother rats outperform virgins in navigating mazes and capturing prey. In addition to motivating females toward caring for their offspring, the hormone-induced brain changes may enhance a mother rat’s foraging abilities, giving her pups a better chance of survival. What is more, the cognitive benefits appear to be long-lasting…”

[From Scientific American, January 2006]

There have been tons of studies on how parental care affects children, but I don’t see as much (understandably) on how having children affect the parents. I hadn’t really thought much about it, but I would be curious to read/hear more about the other side of the relationship there. And I still don’t understand what happened to that math ability…