Study: Memories Can Be Passed Between Generations

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine recently released a study which argues that memories can be passed on through DNA.

The researchers trained mice to be afraid of a smell similar to cherry blossom. Those mice had children and grandchildren, and both generations shared the distaste for the cherry blossom smell. 

If the study's conclusions are in fact correct, it’s the latest piece in a growing body of evidence for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: The idea that our environment can influence our genetic makeup, and we can pass that on to our kids.

David Shenk is the author of "The Genius in All of Us," and he explores how our environment can impact our genetic make-up, and how these traits may be passed on.

Click here to read a chapter of Shenk's book, entitled "How to Improve Your Genes."


David Shenk

Produced by:

Alex Kapelman


T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

@RT from Santa Clara, all my inspiration for the idea of field theory has come from Rupert Sheldrake. I do not particular believe any particular singular system is correct but a lot of the ideas these physics professors, biologists, etc people pushing the science are shunned because it's not status quo. the particular interview with him I originally referred to was from a really old show called "Thinking Allowed". this is the dude: I also enjoy the philosophy of alan watts quite a bit. they were on the right track when it comes to reality and how to deal with it.

Dec. 05 2013 02:17 AM
RT from Santa Clara

samwinston: Unified Meddow Theory?

Dec. 04 2013 03:33 PM
Laine China from Salisbury, NC

Today's subjects, differences in women and men's brains, and genomic memory between generations are fascinating. My favorite NPR program is Science Friday. Today's discussions remind one of the topics on SciFri. Really enjoyed these and am bookmarking them in order to follow up on the studies noted. Thanks. LC

Dec. 04 2013 02:42 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The metaphor I have been thinking about epigenetics is: I collect old letters, and the envelope will give me clues as to what is contained on that letter. The stamp, the cancellation of the stamp, or even the non cancellation of the stamp all gives me information about what is inside... Also,t he handwriting of the person sending the letter, the color of the envelope etc. Oh, and if there is a smile face above the letter i, well then it is a teenage girl who wrote the letter.
The envelope is important and should not be discounted and tossed as sending information

The discovery that transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is real, explains a lot to me about how I grew up a child of a Holocaust survivor: I can walk into a room of people who are pointing guns and knives at me and smile, but if there's a knock on the door and I'm not expecting anyone, I am looking for a window to climb out of.

That message was delivered to me loud and clear. It was a western union same day delivery wire.

Dec. 04 2013 01:46 PM

what about field theory? there was a study with one group of rabbits in the UK and one group of rabbits in the US. the rabbits in the UK were taught a behavior and the rabbits in the US started doing it after the UK rabbits learned it. system theory + field theory + the unknown = crazy reality.

Dec. 04 2013 09:27 AM

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