When Gay Men Become Parents, Their Brains Act Like Both Straight Mothers’ And Fathers’ Brains

In the absence of a mother, gay men’s brains become blind to gender and step up to the full task of parenthood

Photo: Michael Hanson/Corbis

In a straight couple, mothers and fathers tend to take on different caregiving roles, and, a new study shows, different areas of their brain react more strongly to the responsibilities of parenthood. Mothers experience more changes and activity in the amygdala, where emotion-processing takes place, Time reports, whereas fathers respond to new babies with more activity in their cognitive centers, allowing them to jump into action in response to their child's perceived needs. The men's emotional centers only light up when their child's mother is not around, the research team found. 

But what if there is no mother in the picture—if, say, the couple is gay? 

The authors of the new study also examined the brains of 48 gay men who were new fathers. Instead of responding to parenthood like heterosexual men, the researchers found, they assumed neurological traits of both straight fathers and mothers.

"Their emotional circuits were as active as mothers’, and their cognitive circuits were as active as the fathers'," Time writes. "Researchers also found that the more time a gay father spent with the baby, the greater a connection there was between the emotional and cognitive structures."

In other words, gay men become sort of super parents. As Time points out, this means that there is absolutely no biological basis for denying a gay male couple the right to joint custody of a child, or the right to adopt children. 

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