Tuesday, December 03, 2013

More odd biology

BBC News - 'Memories' pass between generations

Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations. 

A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their "grandchildren".

Experts said the results were important for phobia and anxiety research.

The animals were trained to fear a smell similar to cherry blossom.  The team at the Emory University School of Medicine, in the US, then looked at what was happening inside the sperm. 

They showed a section of DNA responsible for sensitivity to the cherry blossom scent was made more active in the mice's sperm.

Both the mice's offspring, and their offspring, were "extremely sensitive" to cherry blossom and would avoid the scent, despite never having experiencing it in their lives. 

Changes in brain structure were also found. 

"The experiences of a parent, even before conceiving, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations," the report concluded.


John said...

There have been a few studies like that now Steve. More strikingly though was a recent study which showed that when a mutation occurs in any area of the genome, two growth genes are altered in response to that mutation; which has obvious implications regarding carcinogenesis.

John said...

If this study is correct it overturns so much of what we know about memory. I think it will be proven wrong because at present there is simply no way to explain how gene changes can affect such a specific memory.