Amazing new research has revealed that memories can be biologically inherited. The data from America is now calling into question how doctors could treat phobias, anxiety and other mental health conditions.
Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine have shown that chemical changes in DNA can transmit information from one generation to the next. Their tests studied mice who were taught to avoid the smell of cherry blossoms. The offspring of these mice also demonstrated a similar aversion to cherry blossoms, despite being given different laboratory conditions.
Dr Brian Dias explained this research saying, “our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations”.
Dias and his fellow researchers theorised that memories are somehow transferred from the brain into DNA, allowing critical information to be passed on through generations. This is often seen in nature where animals share common migration patterns, feeding habits and other inherent instincts, which are not simply behaviours copied from a parent.
Professor Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, said this research provides compelling evidence about the transmission of memories. “These types of results are encouraging as they suggest that trans-generational inheritance exists… but more careful mechanistic study of animal models is needed before extrapolating such findings to humans”.
Pembrey believes that transmitted memories could explain phobias, anxieties and other mental health conditions that sometimes exist without specific triggers. “It addresses constitutional fearfulness that is highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders”, he theorised.
“It is high time public health researchers took human trans-generational responses seriously”, Professor Pembrey added.