It should not come as a surprise to anyone that men can make good parents, that in many cases, they are equal to or even better than women at the task. Even so, in some instances, the prejudices of the past are still at play in favor of women in many family law matters, such as divorce, child custody, adoption and gay rights.

Even though many of us do not need any more convincing that men can make loving, effective parents, new evidence speaking to this point can be helpful in efforts to ensure that men get a fair shake in the family law courts. A study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that brain activity in fathers can change to be on an equal footing with mothers emotionally.

In the study, parents were hooked up to a brain scanner and then compelled to watch videos of themselves interacting with their children. This stimulated activity in different areas of the brain, one of them being an emotional network dealing with social bonding and coordinating responses that maintain a child’s well-being.

Fathers who were raising a child absent a female partner had the same emotional response measurements as mothers. In addition, the emotional response measurements were found to increase the more time men spent with their children.

Studies like this one not only help dispel the misconception that mothers are inherently better than fathers at raising children, they also show the great ability of the human brain to adapt to different circumstances. A father with equal custody, or even a father raising a child without a female partner, can be just as good of a parent as a mother.

Source: New Republic, “Men Can Be Just as “Maternal” As Women, According to Neuroscience,” Michael Brooks, July 25, 2014