Two parents may be better than one for encouraging normal brain development in growing children, research suggests.
Scientists discovered differences in the brains of mice reared by dual parents, including two females, or a single parent.
Female mice with two parents had enhanced changes that led to greater body co-ordination and sociability.
Males developed brains that were better at learning and memory if they had two parents.
Although the study was conducted on animals, similar effects might occur in humans, said the Canadian researchers.
"Our new work adds to a growing body of knowledge which indicates that early, supportive experiences have a long lasting, positive impact on adult brain function." said lead scientist Dr Samuel Weiss, from the University of Calgary.
The scientists, whose work is published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, divided young mouse pups into three groups.
Mice in one group were raised to adulthood by two parents, a male and female. Those in another were reared by one female, while mice from the third group had two female parents.
Each offspring was allowed to reach adulthood before the impact of upbringing on brain cell production was investigated.
Surprisingly the advantages of dual parenting appeared to be passed down to grandchildren. A mouse raised by one female benefited if its mother had been reared by two parents.