Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance
According to BBC News, experiments have shown that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations.
A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their "grandchildren". The mice were trained to fear a smell similar to cherry blossom and researchers found that 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 experiencing it in their lives. Changes in brain structure were also found.
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, of University College London, said:
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