A working mother of two boys, Katherine Ellison gives us The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter. "A modern affliction called ÔMommy Brain'," she writes, "is a cheerful synonym for abrupt mental decline. The phrase summons the image of a ditzy pregnant woman who weeps at Kleenex commercials, or of a frazzled mom with nothing in her head but carpool schedules and grocery lists." But Ellison argues that the diverse demands of motherhood actually improve the brain's plasticity, the formation of new neurons and connections. "What stimulates us in a sense re-creates us, creating new and stronger pathways between synapses." She names five attributes of a "baby-boosted brain," including perception, emotional intelligence and efficiency. A well-documented resource book for women's studies, The Mommy Brain would also make a great gift for a sleep-deprived new mother who feels like she can't think anymore! Linda Stankard is a mother and a daughter.

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