3:34 pm - Friday October 7, 2011

Connection between Genetics and Memory

Why do we crave for food, as we are hungry? Why do we feel insecure and scared when we are in total darkness? These behaviors are not unusual, as it may seem. But we didn’t think this simple human instinct has been passed on generations from our great ancestors when they started to roam the earth. How can it be passed on?

In biology, memory is present if the state of a biological system depends on its past history in addition to present conditions. If this memory is recorded in the genetic material and stably inherited through cell division (mitosis or meiosis), it is genetic. This genetic memory is inherited in our DNA by survival means.

Why? DNA is the only storage medium involved in the transfer of information to the next generation. There is a saying about survival of the fittest. It’s true, where human evolution apparently prepared our species to become possibly the best and clever living being able to adapt to different challenges and environments. For example, deep into your memory banks, your great-great-great grandfather had been attacked by shark five hundred years ago. Or he witnessed a shark attack and he had a phobia. Would that life-changing experience be useful in developing survival knowledge and possibly encoded in genes and passed on to you?

Traits information processed genetic or ancestral memory that slowly becomes our earliest memories in handling certain survival skills or knowledge. This is not dejà vu involved here. Recent discoveries about the idea also may affect us much more than we can imagine. It has been long said that our appearance is determined by combination of our parents’ genes. Through research studies, certain disorders are directly linked to our genetic history. In addition, our aptitudes, musical and athletic ability, even our emotional traits are significantly affected by our genetic roots.

DNA builds everything concerning every living creature, including memory. Some memories may just be built in. Not many think of instincts as memory. But how does a newborn deer know how to run from a wolf? Or is it consciousness playing a role here? Or is it genetics? Although there still not enough concrete proof to link genetic memory to our common sense and other abilities, the question is whether you choose to believe or not. Probably, DNA testing technology will bring us deeper solution of the world of genetics.

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