June 25, 2024

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Are the boys raised by dads smarter?

Are the boys raised by dads smarter?



 

Are the boys raised by dads smarter? PNAS Study Reveals Unique Impact of Fatherly Presence on Boys’ Brain Development”.

For many, the most common refrain to fathers might be, “Dad, where’s Mom?” This is often due to the fact that mothers are typically more involved in nurturing the growth of their children.

While numerous studies have delved into the mother-child relationship, the role of fathers in parenting has received less attention.

However, fathers and mothers play distinct roles in a child’s upbringing, and a father’s involvement in child-rearing should not be underestimated.

From a scientific perspective, how do parental care and educational behaviors impact a child’s growth and development? Recently, the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) published a paper that explores how paternal involvement can have a unique impact on the neurodevelopment of boys through the mechanisms of epigenetics and neurodevelopmental studies.

 

Are the boys raised by dads smarter? PNAS Study Reveals Unique Impact of Fatherly Presence on Boys' Brain Development".

 

 

Research has shown that early parental care in mammals is crucial and influences various neural and behavioral activities in offspring. While numerous studies have examined the effects of maternal care on the growth and development of young rodents, there has been limited research on how care from both parents, and specifically from fathers, affects the neurodevelopment and behavior of offspring.

A typical animal model used in the study of social behavioral development is the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster). Scientists have found that these small rodents exhibit social behaviors similar to humans. Prairie voles, for example, are monogamous animals in which both partners share the responsibility of raising their offspring.

 

Are the boys raised by dads smarter? PNAS Study Reveals Unique Impact of Fatherly Presence on Boys' Brain Development".

 

The study examined the impact of parental care from both parents on the neurodevelopment of offspring using two different parenting approaches: early parental high-care mode (MAN1) and a control group (MAN0), where offspring were raised until weaning (see Figure 2). The second approach involved natural parenting observation in which no restrictions were placed on their parenting behavior.

 

Offspring subjected to early high care exhibited reduced epigenetic aging

DNA methylation can be used to estimate the difference between developmental speed and actual age.

In this study, the researchers used DNA from the hypothalamus of voles to predict their epigenetic age (see Figure 3) and found that receiving more care from both parents early in life slowed down epigenetic aging in voles.

 

Are the boys raised by dads smarter? PNAS Study Reveals Unique Impact of Fatherly Presence on Boys' Brain Development".

 

Transcriptome characteristics of male vole brains changed

In the offspring of MAN1 male voles, 175 genes showed higher expression, while 146 genes had lower expression, and an increase in the expression of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) was observed. In contrast, in females, only three genes exhibited differential expression (FDR < 0.1) (see Figure 4).

 

 

These findings suggest significant gender differences in the whole-genome dynamic gene expression associated with early parental care. While early care from both parents had little impact on female vole offspring, it had a profound effect on males.

 

 

 

Impact of fatherly care on male vole offspring

The researchers calculated the percentage of care provided by fathers and mothers to their offspring, with fatherly care represented as the father’s care time divided by the total parental care time. The study found no differences in maternal care across different categories of offspring, but there were variations in paternal care, indicating that fatherly care has a direct impact on offspring development.

The results indicated a significant interaction between the percentage of fatherly care and synaptic asymmetry, with higher levels of fatherly care associated with increased synaptic asymmetry in male offspring (see Figure 5). Synaptic asymmetry plays a role in neurotransmitter release, which can induce neural excitation. Therefore, in prairie voles, fatherly care specifically influences the social behavior and neurodevelopment of male offspring.

 

 

Are the boys raised by dads smarter? PNAS Study Reveals Unique Impact of Fatherly Presence on Boys' Brain Development".

 

 

In conclusion, the results of these experiments suggest that male prairie voles are particularly sensitive to their early rearing environment, and paternal care plays a crucial role in their neurodevelopment and behavioral development.

These findings emphasize the importance of fathers in the upbringing of boys and highlight their role as both a support system and role model. To ensure the optimal growth of boys, the presence and involvement of fathers are indispensable!

 

 

 

 

Are the boys raised by dads smarter? PNAS Study Reveals Unique Impact of Fatherly Presence on Boys’ Brain Development”.

Reference:
[1] Danoff JS, Ramos EN, Hinton TD, et al. Father’s care uniquely influences male neurodevelopment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023;120(31):e2308798120. doi:10.1073/pnas.2308798120.

(source:internet, reference only)


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