A new study suggests that a mother’s childhood experiences may affect the brain function of her offspring.
Researchers found that mouse moms who were physically active, stimulated and changed their living arrangements frequently as youngsters gave birth to babies with better memory than those born to mothers raised in dull environments.
“How well mice remember when they are young is influenced by exposures to stimuli of their mothers when they were young,” says Larry Feig, a biochemist at Tufts University Medical School in Boston and senior author of the study that will published tomorrow in The Journal of Neuroscience.
This study adds to an accumulating body of evidence that not all the physiological characteristics passed from parents to offspring are genetic, Feig notes. Is it possible the same is true in humans? “The best we could say is if this occurs in humans,” he says, “it would suggest that experiences [your mother] had during adolescence could influence your memory.”
Feig’s team previously showed that stimulating environments trigger a biochemical cascade in mice that enhances their recall by fostering communication between nerve cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that controls memories.