Biotech Updates

Rodent Study Shows Fear Can be Inherited

December 18, 2013

A study conducted in mice showed evidence that fear can be passed on to the next generations. Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler of Emory University in Atlant exposed a group of mice to orange blossoms scent prior to receiving electric shock. This caused the rodents to expect another painful shock after smelling orange. The children of the shocked mice, as well as their grandchildren, exhibited the same fear after smelling orange blossoms even if they were not exposed to shock before. This was not observed in the progenies of mice that were not exposed to shock.

Furthermore, the offspring of the shocked mice developed more nerve cells than normal in the area of the brain responsible for detecting the orange blossom scent, indicating a slight change in their DNA. More tests also showed that that change affected a gene that directed the offspring to produce more molecules that help detect the orange blossom scent. Sperm cells can transfer the altered DNA - and the encoded fear sensitivity, the authors reported December 1 in Nature Neuroscience.