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Science & Technology

Fear of spiders can develop before birth

By T.K. Randall
February 19, 2010 · Comment icon 10 comments

Image Credit: sxc.hu
Scientists now think that a fear of spiders and snakes may develop before a person is born due to the mother's experiences.
Experiments conducted using crickets showed that those whose mothers were exposed to a big spider before giving birth were far more likely to run for shelter when exposed to a spider themselves.
Scientists figure humans may be born with a fear of spiders and snakes, healthy phobias that up the odds of survival in the wild. It's not known how such an inborn fear might develop, however. Now researchers have proven that unborn crickets can gain a fear of spiders based on their mother's harrowing experiences.


Source: Live Science | Comments (10)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by stevoid2005 15 years ago
could it be a genetic imprint memory the mother passes on the neccessary fight or flight instincts and fears (based on the mothers fears or predators of her habitat e.g spiders or husband that beats her up etc) so when the baby is born it is ready to face the world and knows what dangers are there without learning them itself so the child is stronger. (the domestic violence was an example because i read that in a lot of pregnacies where there is violence the child grows up strong for the mother and most of the time stands up to the father and statistcly murders the father probley a load of cra... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by NightMoon 15 years ago
I don't know about this research being very good. Nice theory though. My daughter loves spiders and I'm afraid of them.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Lizardian_guy 15 years ago
Monkey A has a certain brain pattern that causes it to be afraid of spider and snake shaped things. Monkey B doesn't. Snakes and spiders appear. Monkey A goes into a shrieking frenzy and runs away. Monkey B decides to poke at them. Monkey A lives and has babies. Monkey B doesn't. Monkey A's babies are like monkey A. Eventually, all monkeys have the brain pattern that make them scared of spider and snake shaped things. Evolution at work, ladies and gentlemen.
Comment icon #4 Posted by stevoid2005 15 years ago
Monkey A has a certain brain pattern that causes it to be afraid of spider and snake shaped things. Monkey B doesn't. Snakes and spiders appear. Monkey A goes into a shrieking frenzy and runs away. Monkey B decides to poke at them. Monkey A lives and has babies. Monkey B doesn't. Monkey A's babies are like monkey A. Eventually, all monkeys have the brain pattern that make them scared of spider and snake shaped things. Evolution at work, ladies and gentlemen. point well made that won the discussion im with you there so its a little like genetic memory but not memory persay but a kind of gut fee... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by _Nyx_ 15 years ago
My mother doesn't have the paralyzing fear of spiders that I do. She's terrified of snakes and I love them. Weird, huh?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Lizardian_guy 15 years ago
My mother doesn't have the paralyzing fear of spiders that I do. She's terrified of snakes and I love them. Weird, huh? Yeah, there's more to people than biology.
Comment icon #7 Posted by stevoid2005 15 years ago
Yeah, there's more to people than biology. its more like an instinct some are more atuned some arnt those that arnt can deal with the instinct and overcome it
Comment icon #8 Posted by Paranormalcy 15 years ago
Does this work for most all phobias I wonder, this theory? Heights and clowns for example, both of which I have?
Comment icon #9 Posted by brlesq1 15 years ago
This is interesting. There's an old wives' tale that says whatever has frightened the mother during pregnancy will be imprinted on her child. Don't know if that's true or not, but...
Comment icon #10 Posted by witchfinder general 15 years ago
Does this work for most all phobias I wonder, this theory? Heights and clowns for example, both of which I have? i have the same phobias as well. when, my mother's water broke with me, she was eating catfish. i never really cared for catfish, although in recent years i do eat them rarely. wonder if there is any correlation. also, to the OP, how did the cricket offspring whose mothers weren't exposed to spiders react to the said spiders?


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