Children brought up by two parents are biologically predisposed to be cleverer than children raised by one, according to Canadian researchers.
Scientists from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) of Calgary University, in Canada, devised a mouse-model and experimented with both one and two parent family groups. Mice were separated into three separate assemblies: “pups” raised by single mothers, pups raised by two females, and pups raised by a male and female pair.
Researchers then waited for the offspring to reach adulthood to find out if there was any impact on brain cell production. The research suggests adult brain cell production might be determined, in part, by the early parental environment – finding dual parenting may be more beneficial than single parenting.
Neural cell growth was measured from birth to adulthood in the offspring of the single and dual-parent mice. Those with two parents had the highest number of brain cells, thus children raised by two parents were ultimately considered more intelligent.
Although the experiment was conducted on mice, many of the same principles of how early life events can influence growing up are relevant to humans.
The increase in production was because children with two parents are positively stimulated with more attention and a reinforced sense of stability, thus they suffer less emotional distress. Stress and an early onset of emotional trauma can affect development and overall wellbeing.
Benefits also varied by gender. The results determined boys availed with enhanced memory and learning ability and girls achieved improved motor coordination and sociability. This was assessed by the volume of brain matter type.
Interestingly, female offspring with two parents later turned out to be good single mothers – as though the good parenting stimulus and advantage was somehow passed along.
HBI director Dr. Samuel Weiss said, “Surprisingly, the advantages of dual parenting were also passed along when these two groups reproduced, even if their offspring were raised by one female. The advantages of dual parenting were thus passed along to the next generation.”
Weiss is also a professor and an Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions (AIHS) Scientist in the Departments of Cell Biology & Anatomy and Pharmacology & Therapeutics, at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine.
The study is published in the May 1 edition of PLOS ONE and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
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