Have you ever taken an instinctive dislike to something or feared something that seems irrational?
I dislike anything with wings fluttering around me and I've lost count of the times I've been told 'they won't hurt you' - I know that! I just don't like it.
It now seems that these 'instinctual' reactions could be inherited memories:
Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory, animal studies suggest.
Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations.
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 experienced it in their lives.
"The experiences of a parent, even before conceiving, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations," the report concluded.
The findings provide evidence of "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance" - that the environment can affect an individual's genetics, which can in turn be passed on.
Prof Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, said the findings were "highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders" and provided "compelling evidence" that a form of memory could be passed between generations
Do you feel that anything irrational that you fear or dislike could be explained by this?
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