This Article, posted on the BBC News Health Website, discusses a study conducted at the Emory School of Medicine, where mice were conditioned to fear a specific smell. The offspring of these mice were then said to have inherited the aversion. Structural changes to parts of the brain as well as to the DNA were cited as evidence that the behavior was passed down genetically.
The article proceeded by claiming that these results 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."
This completely contradicts everything that I was taught as an undergraduate, and so I am curious to hear others' thoughts on the matter.
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Fascinating subject, James. Strange that this has evoked no responses! I'm not a geneticist or neuroscientist, so I'm not qualified to say much. But I will say this: my formal education had it that humans evince no instinctual behaviors, which is patently not true. Revelation (rational, that is -- not religious), which characterizes the entire history of cumulative human understanding, is to be expected, without end. I somehow have gained the impression that (biological) ontological modifications of heritable DNA is indicated by several lines of experimentation. (In my own case, I think my mom must have been severely frightened by something in advance of my conception:)