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Are phobias passed down through DNA ?

Posted on Monday, 2 December, 2013 | Comment icon 19 comments

Are irrational fears passed down through the generations ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Christoph Bock
Scientists believe that phobias may be passed down between generations through a person's DNA.
Traditionally it was thought that memories and experiences could only be passed down from one generation to the next through direct teaching, but now scientists are challenging this idea by suggesting that some information can also be passed down biologically through DNA.

In experiments conducted by the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, researchers discovered that traumatic or stressful experiences could be passed down between generations of mice. The find suggests the possibility that irrational fears and phobias in humans that can't otherwise be explained may actually be based on the experiences of our ancestors.

"It addresses constitutional fearfulness that is highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, plus the controversial subject of transmission of the ‘memory’ of ancestral experience down the generations," said geneticist Professor Marcus Pembrey.

"It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously. I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach."

Source: Telegraph | Comments (19)

Tags: Phobia, DNA

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by White Unicorn on 3 December, 2013, 3:02
Now that I think further about it, could the "reincarnation" memories of certain individuals who claim they are reborn, actually be traumatic genetic memories of their ancestors passed on to them? I've held the belief of ancestor memory for quite a long time. It was just a personal belief from when I was pondering what past live memories could be beside a spiritual manifestation of some type. I'm glad to see more coming out about learned memories from science research I bet most partial memories in dreams are just that, but then there's the cases of people visualizing their own death with a re... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by YukiEsmaElite0 on 3 December, 2013, 13:43
It would seem more likely that they're learned. i fear spiders because they can hurt you, but birds can't (or don't). But I'm afraid of oceans, and I've never found a reason for that. Maybe it's something on a subconcious level?
Comment icon #12 Posted by Rlyeh on 3 December, 2013, 16:10
And no values(we can include fear in that) are inborn/genetic. They are learned.Because an architect says so?Fear is a survival mechanism and part of the fight or flight response thereby making it inborn.
Comment icon #13 Posted by LimeGelatin on 3 December, 2013, 17:17
I believe, that much like addictions, phobias are either passed down from generation to generation through DNA or engrained into the mind from parent to child through years of direct exposure... -Doc. Me is in the house LoLzzz
Comment icon #14 Posted by TheSpoonyOne on 4 December, 2013, 2:17
I am absolutely petrified of spiders and arachnids in general, as many people of Northern/North-Western European ancestry are (I read it was due to a lack of deadly spiders/tarantulas in our part of the world), and so is my dad, but my mum doesn't mind them, she's always been the one to pick them up and put them outside whilst we freaked out like the brave men we are, ha.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Cryptid_Control on 4 December, 2013, 13:06
The subject of genetic memory is actually really facinating, definitelly interested to see where future research could go on this topic
Comment icon #16 Posted by docyabut2 on 4 December, 2013, 13:12
Similar to my topic
Comment icon #17 Posted by BiffSplitkins on 4 December, 2013, 13:23
One time I got really, really scared and my phobia filled my jeans.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Harte on 9 December, 2013, 4:11
No and... no. And no values(we can include fear in that) are inborn/genetic. They are learned. It might not be so cut and dried: Kerry Ressler, a neurobiologist and psychiatrist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and a co-author of the latest study, became interested in epigenetic inheritance after working with poor people living in inner cities, where cycles of drug addiction, neuropsychiatric illness and other problems often seem to recur in parents and their children. “There are a lot of anecdotes to suggest that there’s intergenerational transfer of risk, and that it’s hard to break ... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by lightly on 9 April, 2014, 18:08
Sure... think of Instincts too? How many 'phobias' are linked to instinctual fears? I guess we've all seen baby animals and people display instinctive behavior ? .. behaviors and reactions that could not have possibly been learned .

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