Pregnancy involves biological adaptations that are necessary for the onset, maintenance and regulation of maternal behavior. We were the first group to find (1, 2) that pregnancy is associated with consistent, pronounced and long-lasting reductions in cerebral gray matter (GM) volume in areas of the social-cognition network. The aim of BEMOTHER is to develop an integrative model of the adaptations for motherhood that occur during pregnancy and the postpartum period by: i) establishing when the brain of pregnant women begins to change and how it evolves; ii) characterizing the dynamics of cognitive performance, theory-of-mind, maternal-infant bonding and psychiatric measures; iii) assessing the effect of environmental and/or psychological factors in the maternal adaptations, iv) identifying the metabolomics biomarkers associated with maternal adaptations, and v) integrating the previous findings within the Research Domain Criteria framework (RDoC) (3). We will use a prospective longitudinal design at 5 time points (1 pre-pregnancy session, 2 intra-pregnancy sessions and 2 postpartum sessions) during which neuroimaging, psychological, behavioral and metabolomics data will be acquired in 3 groups of women: a group of nulliparous women who will be undergoing a full-term pregnancy, another group of nulliparous women whose same-sex partners will undergo a full-term pregnancy, and a group of control nulliparous women. We will provide the longitudinal RDoC-based model at the end of the study, but we will also deliver intermediate longitudinal evaluations after the postpartum session, as well as cross-sectional analyses after the first intra-pregnancy session and the postpartum session. BEMOTHER is timely and innovative. It adopts the translational RDoC framework in order to provide a pioneering, comprehensive and dynamic characterization of the adaptations for motherhood, addressing the interaction among different functional domains at different levels of analysis.
Field of science
- /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/obstetrics and gynaecology/obstetrics/postnatal
- /social sciences/psychology/psychotherapy
Call for proposal
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