The Baby Brain Research Project consists of four research studies. Each of these studies is detailed below.

Please note:

Recruitment for all studies has now been finalised. Thank you to all participants who supported our research by donating their time. We will update this page once these studies have been published. 

STUDY 1 – Published

Title: Cognitive impairment during pregnancy: A meta-analysis

Objectives: Many women report declines in cognitive function during pregnancy, but attempts to empirically evaluate such changes have yielded inconsistent results. We aimed to determine whether pregnancy is associated with objective declines in cognitive functioning, and to assess the progression of any declines during pregnancy.

Study design: We undertook a meta-analysis, applying a random effects model, of 20 studies that have reported quantitative relationships between pregnancy and changes in cognition.

Data sources: Full text articles indexed by Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Complete, MEDLINE Complete, and PsychINFO.

Data synthesis and results: The 20 studies assessed included 709 pregnant women and 521 non-pregnant women. Overall cognitive functioning was poorer in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. Analysis of cross-sectional studies found that general cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning were significantly reduced during the third trimester of pregnancy (compared with control women), but not during the first two trimesters. Longitudinal studies found declines between the first and second trimesters in general cognitive functioning and memory, but not between the second and third trimesters.

Conclusions: General cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning were significantly poorer in pregnant than in control women, particularly during the third trimester. The differences primarily develop during the first trimester, and are consistent with recent findings of long term reductions in brain grey matter volume during pregnancy. The impact of these effects on the quality of life and everyday functioning of pregnant women requires further investigation.

Citation: Davies, S. J., Lum, J. A., Skouteris, H., Byrne, L. K., & Hayden, M. J. (2018). Cognitive impairment during pregnancy: a meta‐analysis. Medical Journal of Australia, 208(1), 35-40.

Please click HERE for the full published text.

STUDY 2 (ONLINE) – Recruitment Finished

Title: Cognitive changes during pregnancy: Product of a major life event or unique effect?

Recruitment for this study has now ended.

The findings of this study will become available in 2021.

STUDY 3 (LAB-BASED) – Recruitment Finished

Title: Behavioural and neural correlates of executive functioning performance during late pregnancy: A between-groups EEG study

Recruitment for this study has now ended.

The findings of this study will become available in 2021.

STUDY 4 (LAB-BASED) – Submitted for Publication

Title: Decreases in response inhibition from pre-conception to late pregnancy: An Event-Related Potential case-series study

This study aimed to explore pregnancy-related changes in the behavioural and ERPs indices of inhibitory control before conception (6-12 months), Trimester 1, Trimester 2, and Trimester 3. Based on an evolutionary framework model, this study used a modified Stop-Signal Task to explore whether differences in inhibitory control during pregnancy vary according to survival need contexts. Working memory was also assessed as an important secondary outcome (see Ouellette & Hampson, 2019; Davies et al., 2018; Henry & Rendell, 2007).

Recruitment for this study has now ended.

The Baby Brain Research Project team has recently submitted this study for publication. This study will be released to the public in 2021.