Pregnancy and adolescence entail similar neuroanatomical adaptations: A comparative analysis of cerebral morphometric changes

Susanna Carmona, Magdalena Martínez-García, María Paternina-Die, Erika Barba-Müller, Lara M. Wierenga, Yasser Alemán-Gómez, Clara Pretus, Luis Marcos-Vidal, Laura Beumala, Romina Cortizo, Cristina Pozzobon, Marisol Picado, Florencio Lucco, David García-García, Juan Carlos Soliva, Adolf Tobeña, Jiska S. Peper, Eveline A. Crone, Agustín Ballesteros, Oscar VilarroyaManuel Desco, Elseline Hoekzema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

28 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mapping the impact of pregnancy on the human brain is essential for understanding the neurobiology of maternal caregiving. Recently, we found that pregnancy leads to a long-lasting reduction in cerebral gray matter volume. However, the morphometric features behind the volumetric reductions remain unexplored. Furthermore, the similarity between these reductions and those occurring during adolescence, another hormonally similar transitional period of life, still needs to be investigated. Here, we used surface-based methods to analyze the longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging data of a group of 25 first-time mothers (before and after pregnancy) and compare them to those of a group of 25 female adolescents (during 2 years of pubertal development). For both first-time mothers and adolescent girls, a monthly rate of volumetric reductions of 0.09 mm 3 was observed. In both cases, these reductions were accompanied by decreases in cortical thickness, surface area, local gyrification index, sulcal depth, and sulcal length, as well as increases in sulcal width. In fact, the changes associated with pregnancy did not differ from those that characterize the transition during adolescence in any of these measures. Our findings are consistent with the notion that the brain morphometric changes associated with pregnancy and adolescence reflect similar hormonally primed biological processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2143-2152
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • adolescence
  • cortex
  • hormones
  • MRI
  • neuroanatomy
  • plasticity
  • pregnancy


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