Is DNA memory real? A recent study showed some interesting results.

The concept of DNA memory claims that both of your good or bad experiences will be inherited by your children and even grandchildren.

Fear can be transferred from parents to children and grandchildren, claim U.S. researchers in their article published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

For example, if your ancestor drowned, it is likely that you will have an irrational fear of water. And your children might have it too. If he died in a fire, you and the members of the future generations of your family might be afraid of fire. Similarly, the subsequent generations may inherit the love for certain products and activities.

In other words, the offspring may inherit the responses to the things experienced by the previous generations. There is even a hypothesis that they also may inherit the memory of those and other events.

Now, a research team of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University explored this phenomenon and came to some pretty interesting conclusions.

The experiment

Kerry Ressler and Brian Dias conducted a surprising experiment, which was described in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The team experimented with lab mice and found that a traumatic event can leave an imprint in the DNA of sperm. It, in turn, can transfer phobia and thus affect the brain structure and behavior of future generations even if they have not experienced the same painful event.

The experts believe that their discovery is important for the research and treatment of human phobias and post-traumatic and anxiety disorders through interfering with the mechanism of memory of the patients.

The researchers connected electrical wires to the floor of the room with male mice. Periodically, the current was switched on, and mice were in pain and ran away.

Electric shocks on the legs of mice were accompanied by the smell of bird cherry, specifically acetophenone, the main component of this smell. After a series of repeated experiments, the scientists stopped tormenting the animals with electricity but continued spraying the acetophenone. Having smelled it, mice trembled and ran away from the “deadly” bird cherry.

The most interesting happened in the next phase. The mice that took part in the experiment gave offspring that were never faced with electricity and never smelled bird cherry. After they grew up a bit, the scientists gave them acetophenone. The little mice reacted exactly as their fathers! That is, they startled, jumped up, and ran away!

Then the experiment was repeated on the second generation of mice that inherited the fear of bird cherry and showed the same results! The scientists suggest that the DNA memory of the ancestors is preserved even by the great-grandchildren. And maybe even by the great-great-grandchildren. Although it is not sure yet.

The DNA memory of the ancestors

It would be rational to assume that the male mice hit with electric current and frightened by the smell of bird cherry shared their experience with the little mice in some unknown way of communication.

However, several series of experiments involved mice that were conceived in vitro and never met their biological fathers. But they also were put off by acetophenone, as if expecting an electric shock.

The transmitting of a phobic behavior occurs via chemical-genetic changes that alter the susceptibility of the nervous system of both progenitors and progeny so that each next generation reacts in a similar manner to the phobic stimulus itself.

The exact biological mechanism is not yet fully understood. The most likely – in the case of lab animals – is that a chemical fingerprint of the odious smell remained in their blood and affected sperm production or, alternatively, that their brain sent a chemical signal in the sperm to change its DNA in a corresponding way.

The researchers believe that the new research provides evidence that applies to the so-called “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance“, according to which environmental factors can affect the genetic material of an individual and this effect can be inherited by offspring.

If the transfer of experience involves epigenetic mechanisms, which depend on the degree of methylation of certain DNA fragments, this leads to changes in the structure of neurons in the particular areas of the brain. Their new configuration is the one to provide a particular reaction to events.

It seems that the degree of methylation is transmitted through sperm, that is, in the male line. And thus, the experience is inherited, creating brain structures that are necessary for triggering the same response to the experience of the ancestors.

According to Professor of Psychiatry Kerry Ressler, from an evolutionary standpoint,

This transfer of information can be an effective way for parents to “inform” the subsequent generations on the importance of certain characteristics of the environment, which they are likely to encounter in the future.

Marcus Pembrey, Professor of genetics at the University of London, said,

It’s time for researchers in the field of public health to take seriously human intergenerational reactions. A complete understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic problems is no longer possible without a transgenerational approach.

Of course, one of the questions to answer is how many generations keep the biological memory of ancestors and whether, at some point, it stabilizes through permanent changes in the genes of the offspring.


DNA memory and the déjà vu phenomenon

science behind deja vu

The colleagues of Ressler and Dias believe that revealing the mechanism of transferring the memory of the ancestors, it will be possible to understand the nature of phobias and other mental disorders.

Moreover, it could help explain the mysterious phenomena of the mind, for example, cases when people suddenly start speaking foreign languages or playing musical instruments they never learned or talking about events that happened long ago and far away.

What if DNA memory is responsible for such phenomena? And finally, can it explain déjà vu? When a person thinks that what is happening to them right now already happened in the past… What if it really did?

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Ironfish

    If DNA memory exists, how does it gets passed onto to children if they die in the event?

  2. Tiph Hunter

    Wonderful research, keep up the good work. I too sense that our DNA HOUSES our Ancestors as well. Check out my blog- I write about really cool ideas there about my brain/mind and body- because I study my own MRI images and turn them into Art- I’m learning a lot about myself- my own brain and my own ancestors too. So, nice work- u r not alone in this. I’m Tiph Hunter.

  3. Tiph Hunter

    Nicely written article. Lots of new and interesting ideas.

  4. tiph hunter

    What “event” would a CHILD die from? The “User” chooses when it wants to die- this is my idea..

  5. Tiph

    On Knowledge Past to “the vine” even after a “short life”– The research on Morphogenic fields come to mind- that a “blue print” exists that creates a “thing” and gets upgraded instantly the “thing” learns it- called “self discovery”…my ideas lead me to study- morphogenic fields- google it….i spell really terribly, sorry for multiple posts…last one, i think..

  6. BFrank

    It seems the author has used two bad examples to convey this notion of DNA or genetic memory . Only experiences which were experienced before passing on your genes to offspring could be encoded with that data.

    Perhaps if the father almost drowned, or maybe if the father was burned very badly in a fire but survived to pass on his genes, then there may be some possibility of passing on those powerfully imbedded memories.

    1. Kristol

      I know this is a very old comment you left, but a better example that could have been used is something I think I have experienced.
      I have several generations of farmers in my family. I noticed that myself and all of my children naturally wake up at sunrise. I think it has to do with my ancestors history of doing the same thing.
      Most of my ancestors came from Norway, all of us thrive and love the cold weather. This to could be inherited.

    2. Bill Ectric

      I agree, Kristol. Exactly.

    3. Bill Ectric

      I agree, BFrank. Exactly.

  7. pablo

    True. As in the heavens, the same in flesh. The mecanics rules of the spirit, appears giving shape to atoms. Easy way….just an inscription encoded by the star SUN…………He trembles, we scare up……..he works fine, here every body goes in joy………

  8. Philoden

    We are really only at the dawn of genetic research but new findings are rapidly being made which expose our lack of knowledge in this area.It is only recently that the human genome has been completed and also that of Neanderthal man.In a few years we will be astounded at the amount of information in DNA that in now concealed.Please read the work of Rupert Sheldrake who has some spectacular ideas in the field of “morphic resonance” and other cutting edge fields.

  9. Glenn W.

    Great experiment, bad examples. Drowning or burning up in a fire makes no sense at all. How many children can you have after that happens.

  10. Jacob Gordon/ Depasture

    I’m aware that I may receive criticism as well as skepticism for what I’m about to share, however I’m okay with that. People will never understand what their minds are closed to in my opinion. And if you knew me personally, you would know that I despise lying. A couple of years ago I quit a job working in a non union welding shop. This shop lacked proper ventilation and in turn when I quit I became very I’ll. Like drifting in and out of consciousness I’ll. I believed I was going to die, however I’m stubborn by nature and I refused medical treatment. I basically suffered through a bout of pneumonia for 3 or 4 days before getting antibiotics. Now during this drift in and out, I relived a memory that was far from my own. I’d call it a dream however it’s very rare that I ever dream the same thing twice, much less that I remember my dreams at all. And this experience was far to vivid as well as I relived it probably in the ball park of 50 times. Bare with me, as far as I could tell I was in a wooded mountain range in northern Europe somewhere. And I was mortally wounded. I could taste iron in my mouth and I lay with my arms stretched out in front of me. My body was wedged in the crook of two trees that were covered in moss. And I was wearing some sort of leather armor up to my elbows. The woods had a rather dense fog and I could hear shouts and screaming in the distance. In front of me standing was a Brutish man with a massive beard sawing on a dead man’s head with a dull blade. I lived this over and over waking up covered in cold sweat praying that I wouldn’t die. And every time I fell asleep, I was right there between those trees. In the dream, or vision or whatever the experience was, I wasn’t afraid. I’m almost 22 now and this happened at least two years ago. Im from Indiana, and my ancestors came to America from France 4 generations ago. I have Stark blond hair and facial hair. I know I have Scottish and Dutch blood. And call it a massive hunch, but I’ve always felt connected to my ancestors. I have two other experiences similar to this one, but I feel like I’ve typed an essay. I know how far fetched it sounds, and I’m even asking myself why I’m sharing such a personal experience with the world. However if someone else can relate then I suppose it’s worth the criticism. Thank you for your time.

  11. Dennis Barnes

    For years I kept having dreams that I was in a battle in some sort of war,one day while driving though and area in Virginia not to far from Richmond I felt like I have been there before I did not at that time link it to my dreams, some 40 years later while doing some research on family history I discovered that my great grandfather was wounded in a battlefield which is the same area that I passed though. I have not had that dream since i discovery that, which tells me that that memory was passed on to me.
    So i definitely beleave that memory is passed on in DNA hopefully science will discover how to retreav all of our DNA memory,which would mean even though our body may die our minds will live on though memories

  12. Nancy

    I do believe this is a rational explanation for the stories throughout our history of experiencing deja vous or sense of having experienced a place or experience before. I agree the examples were poor, an not what it is really on the verge of explaining. I have felt this explanation of DNA carrying memory makes much sense. We do not find breeding horses or dogs to inherit certain traits to be strange. That evolved through observation of traits and encouraging enhancement of the traits we desired.people are no different , if you think about it. We obviously inherit talents, fears, proclivities and possibly actual memories that can haunt us.

  13. Robin Austin

    There is a cave entrance in Tennessee bearing my name on a usgs map somewhere. I was two miles or so underground with six other guys and handed one my light, (we had five), telling him ” I’ve got to go pee, I’ll catch up to you guys. In actuality my goal was to explorer the possibilities of detecting my ancestors memories and find a way out of the cave in whatever way my ancestors, who I suspected probably had been in that predicament at some point in the history of my species and my lineage had. I eventually realized the strategy they must have used to survive, escaped, and was informed some months later by the leader of our expedition he had gone back, found the exit I used, and named it Robin’s entrance.

  14. Bill Ectric

    I think there is an error in this article. Maybe if a man almost drowned, then later had a child, the child would fear water. But if a man drowned, he couldn’t have any more children to pass the DNA on to.

  15. Alice

    About 3 years after the 9/11 event in New York, I watched a TV documentary that explained the effects of our physical circumstances upon our DNA. Some research had been done on children born shortly after 9/11 that exibited trauma. The psychiatrists found that these children’s mothers were experiencing severe trauma at the time of the 9/11 event, while they were pregnant with the children . Further research together with German and (I think) Swedish scientists confirmed that our DNA can be “switched on and off” by certain events and circumstances. I unfortunately, cannot remember the scientists involved (too long ago). They also found that certain circumstances like drought or war can have an influence – like the example they used was about a town with a very long written history that confirmed that people that lived through a drought, their ofspring had a shorter life expectancy. I never heard about further research, but am certain that there was. It has confirmed my experience of what I saw in my own family. When I expected my daughter, I constantly had the feeling that my ex-husband did not want the child – she suffers from over-sensitivity and everything negative she experiences as rejection. When my daughter expected her first child she experienced a lot of uncertainty and worry and concern – my grand daughter is a mess of worry and anxiety, So, yes there is already some scientific research and proof that this happens and thus that emotions, and cicumstances, we experience can be retained by the body and passed on to future generations. Thank goodness for the Emotion Code that can now help relieve these painful influences in our lives!!!

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