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Inherited Memories


2015/04/01

I had come across Cellular Memory at The Skeptic's Dictionary. Apparently some people think that organ transplants pass memories. Rather doubtful, but..

I'm sure you learned the same thing I did about memories: they are not inherited. Your eye color is controlled by genes, as is your height, how much hair is on your body, your susceptibility to certain diseases and many other things, but not memories. I questioned that the first time I heard it. It was probably Junior High or High School and my question was simple enough: aren't instincts memories?

Of course they are, but the teacher waved his or her hands and said that was "different". Of course it isn't, but arguing with uncurious teachers won't get you far. My thoughts havent changed: I'd really like to know when instinct becomes complex enough not to be called that, but I didn't get an answer then and probably can't get one now. It's like many other nebulous things: you know it when you see it and that's that.



We were also taught about the discredited Lamarckian inheritance. I questioned that too, though I couldn't point to a good reason. That had to wait for epigenetic inheritance, but every scientist worth his grant money would be quick to say that's not Lamarckian. I can't argue that, but it is similar.

Shrug. Then this week I read Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors. Say what? Is a phobia an instinct?

Yeah. I also won't be surprised if someday we realize that the difference between Lamarckian and epigenetic inheritance isn't as much as is now assumed and insisted upon. Slightly related to this is bacteria recycling genes from DNA scrap. I wonder if we ever do that? Of course we do have genes picked up from viruses; is that really different?

It seems that life is a lot more complicated than what I was taught so many years ago and is probably still more complicated than what is taught now.

Bacteria recycle genes from DNA scrapheap.

Genes picked up from viruses

A natural history of neurons: Diverse mutations reveal lineage of brain cells


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© Anthony Lawrence







Fri Apr 3 08:22:00 2015: 12650   TonyLawrence

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I just came across this: (link) which is about histones controlling gene expression and


It may also inform research into whether changes to the histone proteins that are caused by environmental conditions -- such as stress or diet -- can influence the function of genes passed on to offspring.


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