Studies suggest that traumas and behaviors can be passed on by genes

Scientists at Emory University in the United States have suggested in recent studies that the most varied types of trauma that occur in people's lives can be transmitted genetically to their children. According to them, human behavior can be affected by episodes experienced by generations past the so-called genetic memories.

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience and provided as an example tests performed on trained mice. One group of animals shunned places that had a certain kind of odor, passing this kind of aversion to their offspring (who did not even try to go beyond where the odor was felt).

Situations that modify genes?

Research has also shown that traumatic events can significantly affect sperm DNA, as well as altering the brain and behavior of future generations. The scientists analyzed the sperm in mice and found that the change in odor sensitivity tested was more present in male animals, which spread behavior among their offspring.

All the offspring of the tested mice simply disliked the odor, dodging wherever they felt it, no matter how much they had experienced their parents. Minor changes in the brains of these animals were also noted by the experts.

"Parents' experiences, even before reproduction, strongly influenced both the structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations, " the report says. The findings offer evidence of a "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, " meaning that the environment can affect an individual's genes that can then be passed on to their heirs.

A record for descendants

Brian Dias, one of the study's researchers, said in a BBC report that this behavior could be a mechanism by which descendants show the marks of their predecessors. According to him, there is no doubt that what happens to the egg and sperm can affect future generations.

Professor Marcus Pembrey of the University of London said the findings make a lot of sense when we think of phobias, high levels of anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorders. According to Pembrey, the studies provide strong evidence that certain types of memories can be passed on for generations as a precaution.

"Public health urgently needs to take into account human transgenerational responses, " he says. Prembey also stated that the increase in neuropsychiatric disorders, the increase in obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders can only be fully understood with a multigenerational study. More research on the subject is currently being conducted in the United States.