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Neuroplasticity in Action: How Parenthood Reshapes Our Brains with Dr. Sarah McKay

Dr. Sarah McKay is an Australian-based (Kiwi-born) neuroscientist, speaker, author, and founder of Think Brain and the Neuroscience Academy suite of training programs. She graduated Oxford University with a MSc and DPhil in neuroscience. After five years of postdoctoral research in spinal cord injury, Sarah hung up her lab coat to found Think Brain, which offers a global audience online professional development programs in applied neuroscience and women’s brain health.

Sarah is the author of The Women’s Brain Book: The Neuroscience of Health, Hormones and Happiness. Her second book, Baby Brain: The Surprising Neuroscience of How Pregnancy and Motherhood Sculpt Our Brains and Change Our Minds (For The Better). She has been published extensively for consumers, academic, and professional audiences. She’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Grazia, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and Body & Soul, and can be seen and heard on SBS Insight, ABC TV and radio, Mamamia, and on stage at Business Chicks, Canberra Writers’ Festival and Happiness and Its Causes.

Most importantly, Sarah is a mum to two teenage boys, a sailor (co-captaincy shared with husband), a botanical artist, and an ocean swimmer. Sarah and her Irish husband call Sydney’s Northern Beaches home.

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How does becoming a parent reshape our brains?

Even if you don’t have children, you likely know friends or family who are parents. The transition to parenthood changes the brain in remarkable ways to help prepare moms and dads for raising a newborn. Whether you’re a new parent or simply want to learn what friends and family are going through, understanding the neuroscience can help everyone provide better support for new parents.

I’m excited to do a deep dive on this topic with our guest today. Dr. Sarah McKay is a neuroscientist, speaker, and founder of Think Brain and the Neuroscience Academy’s suite of training programs. She’s also the author of Baby Brain: The Surprising Neuroscience of How Pregnancy and Motherhood Sculpt Our Brains and Change Our Minds (For the Better).

Both men and women show myriad biological changes both during pregnancy and after the baby is born. This reshaping of the parental brain reflects the amazing power of neuroplasticity and equips you with new capabilities to match the demands of parenthood. Listen in as Dr. McKay shares the fascinating research about how pregnancy and caring for a new infant physically alters the brain for both moms and dads. 

I invite you to join me in a world of limitless learning possibilities. Through my revolutionary Kwik Brain accelerated learning programs, I’ll guide you towards rapid growth and extraordinary achievements by unlocking the secrets of productivity, memory enhancement, confidence-building, and more. Unleash your true genius at http://kwikbrain.com and use code PODCAST15 at checkout for an exclusive 15% discount on any of our transformative courses as a thank you for being a loyal listener.

To learn more about your brain type and how to use this knowledge to create lasting change, visit kwikbrain.com/animal-quiz, and take the quiz today.

Dr. Sarah McKay

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**This week’s show notes are taken from the video — enjoy!**

  • There are a lot of myths around baby brain and mommy brain. But is there any truth to them?    [3:04]
  • This is more likely to impact how forgetful you may or may not be during pregnancy.  [5:17]
  • But there is a shift when you’re pregnant, and it can impact this. [6:13]
  • This is part of parenthood, but too much can impact cognitive decline and emotional instability. [7:01]
  • In the animal kingdom, expecting parents go through these changes. We see similarities in human parents, as well. [9:04]
  • These are some of the changes that can happen and how they impact parenting. [10:55]
  • This is why having a support network is so important. [12:09]
  • The brain changes in these specific areas for this reason. [13:23]
  • Changes also take place in dads and dads-to-be. [14:36]
  • Most fathers will see this significant biological change when they become a parent. [16:23]
  • This is Dr. McKay’s advice to new or expecting parents. [18:12]
  • It’s common for parents to experience this state with a new baby. Here’s what that might look like.  [19:11]
  • When we talk about why certain thoughts are normal, it helps de-catastrophize them and lowers stress. [20:33]
  • Take a screenshot, tag us (@jimkwik & @drsarahmckay), and share one thing you learned from this episode.
  • If you want to learn more, be sure to grab your copy of Baby Brain, here.
  • Don’t forget to connect with Dr. McKay on her website, here.



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