MONTREAL, December 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new study shows that growing up without a father not only affects behavior – it transforms children's brain structure.
That's the verdict reached by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center and recently published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.
Researchers studied the behavior and brains of Californian mice who, like humans, are monogamous and raise their children as a unit.
Mice separated from their fathers showed greater aggression, anti-social behavior, and “abnormal social interactions” than those raised with both parents.
“The behavioral deficits we observed are consistent with human studies of children raised without a father,” said Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, the report's lead author.
However, more groundbreaking was their finding that the behavior was not the only thing affected by the lack of a father. Mice raised by one parent had a misshapen prefrontal cortex, the portion of the brain associated with behavior, decision-making, and problem solving.
“This is the first time research findings have shown that paternal deprivation during development affects the neurobiology of the offspring,” Gobbi said.
The report states, “Our results emphasize the importance of the father during critical neurodevelopmental periods, and that father absence induces impairments in social behavior that persist to adulthood.”
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The absence of a father has been associated with a string of poor behavior and life outcomes, including higher rates of substance abuse and criminality.
A report published by the Center for Social Justice found that half of all children in Britain are living in a single-parent home, more than 1 million British children in all.
By contrast, the presence of fathers – even uncommunicative ones – raises the levels of positive outcomes for children.
In 2011, researchers at the University of Melbourne found that delinquent behavior was reduced by 7.6 percent among boys who lived with their biological fathers, and five percent points for those living with non-biological fathers only, especially violent and gang-related crime.