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Anyone interested in the idea of inherited memory?

(17 Posts)
Wallace Sat 15-Nov-08 19:32:16

I think that is the right term for what I am thinking about. For example I have always felt very peaceful in a cetain area of the country, found out recently that my ancestors lived in that area for hundreds of years.

Also on the thread that is going about premonitions, there are stories of children knowing places to which they have never been, and talking about people and pets that died before they were born. Is it possible they have somehow inherited these memories?

I find it an interesting idea, if we can inherit personality traits, why not memories? Obviously I hae no idea of the science behind this

CoteDAzur Sat 15-Nov-08 20:00:20

"if we can inherit personality traits, why not memories?"

Simply because your personality traits (as well as eye color, height, body shape etc) are encoded on your DNA which is the only thing that gets transmitted from your parents.

Memories are stored in the brain, not in the DNA, which is why you can develop amnesia after a blow to the head and can't recover your memories from the DNA which is present in every cell.

A newborn "knows" only several things which we call 'reflexes' - he grabs your finger so strongly you can lift him off, he will turn an open mouth if you touch his cheek (as if seeking breast) etc. If memories were passed down genetically, you would expect the newborn to be less of a blank slate.

jabberwocky Sat 15-Nov-08 20:08:30

I was just thinking of this yesterday when I saw a news story on Foreign Accent Syndrome. Apparently with certain head injuries the patient starts speaking in an accent of a language that they have never spoken. So I wondered if there might be some sort of genetic memory kicking in?

Wallace Sat 15-Nov-08 20:14:04

How do we know that our life experiences don't affect our genes?

that's a good example of the type of thing I am thinking of jabberwocky

Annthecat Sat 15-Nov-08 20:15:38

Newborns are also born with temprements/personalities and pre dispositions for all sorts of things that cannot be identified in DNA. Yet.

The fact that no memory is stored in DNA, is only a belief and is no more provable than memory being stored in DNA.

So science is not really going to prove this either way.

There is lots of belief that collective memory and emotion is passed on through humanity.

I persoanlly 'feel' that our spiriyual element which is part of all humans cannot be explained or unederstood by our limited rational thought, and within that something like this collective memory could be true. But it's something you can have an awreness of, or glimpses of, and not 'prove'.

jabberwocky Sat 15-Nov-08 20:26:32

Also a possible explanation for savants.

Wallace Sat 15-Nov-08 20:39:53


onager Sat 15-Nov-08 20:48:21

It's a fun idea and you can imagine it being a non physical thing if you want to play with it. It would be useful and interesting.

However since people are identified by their DNA that suggests that it doesn't change during your lifetime (though I gather that you can have damage from radiation)

Also I am reliably informed that human women are born with all their eggs ready made so no opportunity for storing later memories.

Niecie Sat 15-Nov-08 20:49:57

It is an interesting question.

Another example could be transplant patients who take on the personality traits or preferences of the person whose organs they received. They went to sleep not liking bananas or something and woke up loving them only to find that it was the donor's favourite fruit. That kind of thing.

Wallace - I feel the same about a bit of Devon. I don't live there and I love the whole county but I only feel a particular affinity with one bit of it, the bit where my ancestors come from.

Portofino Sat 15-Nov-08 20:57:50

I feel a smilar affinity with the South of France grin It's like this is where i was meant to live! On a more serious note, I think there might be something in it where families have lived in the same area/same occupation for generations...

DisasterArea Sat 15-Nov-08 20:59:06

i read that as inherited money. was going to reply Hell Yes. but this is much more interesting.

CoteDAzur Sat 15-Nov-08 21:45:03

Annthecat - Personality is part of the DNA, so it is normal that the newborn displays certain personality traits.

re "The fact that no memory is stored in DNA, is only a belief and is no more provable than memory being stored in DNA."

I realize that this is the religion board, but "only a belief" and "not provable" are funny terms to use regarding the DNA, a structure of only four components and the use of which is quite extensively documented following the Human Genome Project.

As Onager said, a person's DNA does not change through their lifetime (which is why police can match DNA from 50 years ago to a suspect today) and women are born with all the eggs they will ever ovulate. Given all we know about the function of DNA which has nothing to do with memories, it seems pretty clear and quite provable indeed that memories don't get coded into DNA.

Niecie Sat 15-Nov-08 22:20:06

I don't think it is that easy. Yes, women are born with a finite no. of eggs but that doesn't mean to say that the DNA doesn't change. We know that the eggs suffer DNA damage as they age, as does the other half of the equation, the sperm, which is produced throughout the male life.

I'm not saying that DNA definitely carries memory, I have no idea, but I don't think you can rule it out on the basis that DNA doesn't change over the course of a lifetime, when clearly it does in some circumstances.

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Nov-08 08:31:42

The damage eggs suffer with advanced maternal age has to do with broken nucleotide bonds and inability to properly replicate. That is, the 'change' you speak of is the breaking down and losing function of old age, not new information (memories nor anything else) being coded on the DNA.

Sorry, but none of this is a mystical cloud of probabilities, nor is it even cutting edge science. It is fact.

It is also a fact that a person's DNA does not change through the course of his life, nor after his death (see 'Cold Case').

Niecie Sun 16-Nov-08 13:15:30

I'm no expert but what about epigenetics? You don't change the DNA but the gene expression patterns.

Depends how you define memory of course.

CoteDAzur Sun 16-Nov-08 17:32:45

Epigenetics is a very interesting subject that is only recently being properly explored. Of course it has nothing to do with memory, however you care to define the word.

As mutation and natural selection as the long term adaptation strategies of our species, it seems we also adapt to our surroundings in the shorter term through epigenetics. When baby is in the womb, its development is affected by the way mother experiences the world - how dangerous is it out there (judging by mother's stress levels)? is there a famine (judging by how much/what mother eats)? All these factors appear to influence the way genes are turned on and off in the developing fetus.

It is indeed a very interesting subject, but has Nothing To Do With "Inheriting Memory" From Parents.

Stephen121 Wed 10-Jun-09 10:37:43

Genetists look at a very small area of DNA to prove it is a match to someone, and the Human Genome Project was simply learning how to sequence the 3 billion base pairs that makeup our 23 chromosomes. Anyone studing genetics will tell you you that we haven't even begun to scratch the surface when comes to being able to read the pages of the book, we just learned what order the pages are in. I have taken two college level genetics classes and I can tell you that there is far more we don't know than we do know.

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