Have you experienced your memories giving you glimpses of past lives of your father or grandfather? Do you feel that these memories are not your own?
Well, scientists may have just figured out how memories can be inherited. They claim that you can even turn on or off this transfer of memories to our children or grandchildren.
What Is Epigenetics?
The study of inherited mutations (changes) in gene expression is known as Epigenetics. These changes are not inherent to us but are inherited. Apart from basic instincts for survival, DNA does not contain much inherent information but in many cases, some particular attributes are passed to the progeny. In many studies, is it has been found that the effects of traumatic experiences can be seen in subsequent generations. The main question that you might be having at this point is- How these genetic experiences are passed on?
In a recent research published in the journal Cell, the researchers from Tel Aviv University describe the mechanism by which it becomes possible to turn on or off this transfer of memory.
Understanding The Mechanism
Dr. Oded Rechavi, head of the research explains, “We previously showed that worms inherited small RNAs following the starvation and viral infections of their parents. These small RNAs helped us prepare their offspring for similar hardships,” Dr. Rechavi said.
He goes on to explain the research, noting “We also identified a mechanism that amplified inheritable small RNAs across generations, so the response was not diluted. We found that enzymes called RdRPs are required for re-creating new small RNAs to keep the response going into subsequent generations.”
The scientists were able to isolate out the genes which were responsible for turning epigenetic transmission on or off. They named these genes as ‘Modified Transgenerational Epigenetic Kinetics’ or (MOTEK).
This study was conducted on the transfer of hereditary information in worms. But the scientific community is very excited as it opened up many new doors for genetic research in humans as well. Soon many new secrets of human biology will be uncovered.