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Posted by Claudio Santiago on 10 Junho, 2020

#EscapeCult - The origin of phobias

Phobias can be genetically transmitted memories

A study with rats has shown that traumatic episodes can chemically alter DNA, causing subsequent generations to inherit genes that cause phobias Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta have found that a situation that causes some form of trauma not only causes structural changes in the brain, but also promotes genetic changes in DNA. They came to this conclusion by causing mice to associate the scent of the cherry blossom with electric shocks. After the animals reproduced, two generations of offspring were shown to fear that same smell. Clown phobia is called coulrophobia (Photo: mika est glauque / Flickr / Creative Commons) The discovery suggests that certain information and experiences can also be transmitted to descendants in a biological way, and not just through language or personal experience. If proven also for humans, the mechanism of genetic transmission of memory will be of great interest to areas such as neuropsychiatry - just as there is a possibility of inheriting a genetic disease such as cancer, there would also be a chance of receiving propensities for psychiatric pathologies such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, if you have a phobia of spiders, the reason may be a dramatic encounter between an ancestor and an arachnid. In this case, arachnophobia manifests itself as a defense mechanism stored in the familiar genes. "We started to explore a little-valued influence on the behavior of adults - the ancestral experience prior to conception," says Brian Dias, one of the authors of the article, published in the scientific publication Nature Neuroscience. According to Dias, old experiences of our parents can influence the structure and functioning of our nervous system. Now, the researchers hope to deepen the work to better understand how the information is lodged in the genome. The next step will be to investigate whether the process also occurs in humans. The area of ​​biology that studies this type of phenomenon is epigenetics. Cool huh? Is cockroach phobia genetic too?