Could memories be stored by making modifications to your DNA? link
To remember a particular event, a specific sequence of neurons must fire at just the right time. For this to happen, neurons must be connected in a certain way by chemical junctions called synapses. But how they last over decades, given that proteins in the brain, including those that form synapses, are destroyed and replaced constantly, is a mystery. Now Courtney Miller and David Sweatt of the University of Alabama in Birmingham say that long-term memories may be preserved by a process called DNA methylation – the addition of chemical caps called methyl groups onto our DNA. With various experiments on mice using shock treatments, Miller and Sweatt “_think we’re seeing short-term memories forming in the hippocampus and slowly turning into long-term memories in the cortex,” says Miller, who presented the results last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC.
Can experiences be passed on to offspring? link
What was your mother up to before you were even a twinkle in her eye? You might not think it matters, but it seems that in mice at least, mothers that receive mental training before they become pregnant can pass on its cognitive benefits to their young. Previous studies in both people and animals have shown that a mother’s experiences while pregnant can affect her offspring’s gene expression and health, even years later. However, it was not known if experiences prior to pregnancy had an effect. Larry Feig at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and his colleagues bred “knockout” mice that lacked a gene called Ras-GRF-2, causing them to have a memory defect. Normally, if mice in a cage receive a shock to their feet, they freeze in fear if they are then placed back into the same cage. In contrast, Ras-GRF2 knockout mice did not associate the cage with fear.