Are They Fears, or Memories Passed Down by Ancestors?
When you grow up with anxiety disorder, you spend a lot of time searching for something to blame.
Nature or nurture? A mental illness inherited from family or the result of societal pressures? Cowardice or some other character flaw?
Because of this, I found myself fascinated by new research from the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, which suggests that phobias may in fact be memories of trauma passed down from our ancestors.
Afraid of heights? Blame grandma.
Researchers trained mice to associate stressful experiences with the scent of cherry blossoms, then found that the mice passed this learned trait to later generations.
Dr Brian Dias, from the department of psychiatry at Emory University, said: "We have begun to explore an underappreciated influence on adult behavior – ancestral experience before conception.
"Our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations.
You can read the full article on the Telegraph. It puts genealogical research and family histories in a whole new perspective.
Did an ancestor die a traumatic death, or narrowly escape danger and live to tell the tale? Perhaps it could explain those reoccurring nightmares...
Do you have any spooky family stories or genealogical research to share in time for Halloween? Send me an email or leave a comment below!