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HomeHRP Mamas Events CalendarMother Brain: Book Talk with Chelsea Conaboy

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Mother Brain: Book Talk with Chelsea Conaboy

Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 7:30 PM until 9:00 PM

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Mother Brain
How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood

With Chelsea CONABOY

When her first child was born, health and science journalist Chelsea Conaboy was prepared for the endless dirty diapers, the sleepless nights, and the joy of holding her newborn. What she did not anticipate was a shift in self as deep as it was disorienting. She would soon discover what was behind this shift: her changing brain. During this interactive book talk, Conaboy will delve into Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood, a groundbreaking exploration of the parental brain that untangles insidious myths from complicated realities, exploding the concept of “maternal instinct” and telling a new story about what it means to become a parent.

New parents undergo major structural and functional brain changes, driven by hormones and the deluge of stimuli a baby provides. These neurobiological changes help all parents—birthing or otherwise—adapt in those intense first days and prepare for a long period of learning how to meet their child’s needs. Pregnancy produces such significant changes in brain anatomy that researchers can easily sort those who have had one from those who haven't. And all highly involved parents, no matter their path to parenthood, develop similar caregiving circuitry. Yet this emerging science, which provides key insights into the wide-ranging experience of parenthood, from the intensity of our individual emotions to its larger role in shaping human nature, is mostly absent from the public conversation about parenthood.

Join us for this author talk!


Chelsea Conaboy is a health and science journalist. She started her career at the small but mighty Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, where she discovered her love for narrative writing. She wrote about health care at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe, and was part of the Globe staff that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news, for coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. For three years, she led the features report at the Portland Press Herald in Maine, where she edited weekly sections on arts and entertainment, books, food, and sustainable living. Chelsea's writing also has been published by The New York Times, Mother Jones, Politico, the Boston Sunday Globe magazine, National Journal, The Week, ParentMap, and WBUR. She has been a fellow with the Poynter Institute, the National Library of Medicine and the Health Coverage Fellowship led by writer Larry Tye.

Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood, published by Henry Holt & Co., is Chelsea's first book. The writing and reporting of Mother Brain was supported by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology Program. Parts of Mother Brain were written in the cabins of the Hewnoaks Artist Residency.