That fear you have of clowns crawling out from under your bed — blame it on your cave-dwelling ancestors. That’s right, scientific research has shown that phobias are probably genetic memories passed down over generations.
While memories are learned experiences built over a lifetime and often passed down, new scientific findings reveal that it is possible for some of this information to be inherited through chemical changes in DNA, according to The Telegraph.
Dr Brian Dias led the program which studied mice that were trained to fear the smell of cheery blossoms through electric shock and passed the trauma on to subsequent generations.
“We have begun to explore an underappreciated influence on adult behavior – ancestral experience before conception.
“From a translational perspective, 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.
“Such a phenomenon may contribute to the etiology and potential intergenerational transmission of risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
With the mice offspring having a natural fear to the smell of cherry blossoms, the next step for the scientists is to investigate how this phobia is stored in DNA.
What’s all this mean? Well for starters, you don’t have to feel like a wuss anymore for being too scared to go in the ocean past your ankles, it was some other schmuck in your family tree that had that hang-up, you’re just reaping the aftermath.