Parents’ and even grandparents’ experiences echo in offspring
Alexander Hardin/Wikimedia Commons
Along with eye color, height and dimples, parents’ fears can pass down to children, scientists report December 1 in Nature Neuroscience. The results, from experiments with mice, suggest how fallout from a person’s traumatic experiences might ripple through generations.
Mouse parents learned to associate the scent of orange blossoms with a shock. Their children and their grandchildren startled in response to the scent — a sign of fear — even though they had never smelled it before. Offspring also had more neurons that detect the orange blossom scent than mice whose parents weren’t exposed to the scent.