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Clinical Pearl: Memories are Stored in the Body Throughout Generations

by Ian Kennedy

'To further a more scientific substantiation to the premise of the body memories there was a study done at Emory University in Atlanta in 2013 that established an interesting finding. The scent of cherry blossoms was introduced into a cage of mice. At the same time, a mild electric shock was repeatedly administered to the mice. After some time there was no need for the shock. Just at the smell of cherry blossoms, the mice would run in the opposite direction in fear. The amazing thing, however, was that the reaction of fear held for the next generation of mice as well. When this new generation encountered the smell of cherry blossom they experienced the same fear and recoiled from it. This was without any personal experience of the electric shock. Heightened sensitivity to the fragrance continued in the second and third generations as well. This is a glaring reminder of how our impressions today can influence generations after us. The unknown reasons for our aversions today may well be linked to our past generation's experiences without any knowledge of what those experiences were.

Dias, B., Ressler, K. Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations. Nat Neurosci17, 89–96 (2014).


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