Parents play an instrumental role in a child's life, from providing financial support to emotional truss. But most of us are probably unaware of an added bonus - that having two parents means more production of brain cells, as a new study suggests.

"Our new work adds to a growing body of knowledge, which indicates that early, supportive experiences have long lasting, positive impact on adult brain function," said Samuel Weiss, senior author of the study and director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary.

In the study published in the May 1 issue of PLOS ONE, researchers studied parental activities in mice and uncovered that a dual-parent household early on showed higher brain cell production and intelligence into adulthood.

The increased brain cell count varied specifically between females and males. Female pups with moms and dads increased white matter production, which boosts motor coordination and sociability, while male pups increased in grey matter that's responsible for improved learning and memory.

And these advantages don't just stop at adulthood. They could be passed along to offspring, even if the offspring is raised by a single mother.

Researcher performed this portion of the study by dividing mice into three groups, one where the pups were raised by a single mom, another set of pups raised by a mom and dad, and the third set of pups raised by two females. The pups were studied into adulthood.

They found that the pups with two parents, either two moms or a mom and dad, were directly responsible for their adult brain cell production.

The researchers believe it is possible similarities could be observed in other mammal species, including humans.

Other studies have shown that children encouraged by both parents as early as five do better on tests in schools. Researchers say that shared activities such as singing, eating, socializing, discussing books and films. and reading stories are directly associated with strong academic achievements.