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Scientists Find Olfactory "Memory" Passed Between Generations In Mice

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the mama's-gonna-put-all-of-her-fears-into-you dept.

Science 118

New submitter Raging Bool writes "The BBC is reporting that acquired phobias or aversions by mice can be passed on to subsequent generations. From the article: 'Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behavior of subsequent generations. A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their 'grandchildren.''"

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Smell My First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45577927)

Smell My First Post

I Can Fart in Different Colours (-1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#45577945)

"Chartreuse" is a perennial favourite!

Take that Darwin (4, Funny)

Flyskippy1 (625890) | about a year ago | (#45577931)

Score one for Lamarkian evolution. (And epigenetics). I knew Darwin was wrong...

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45577993)

And, for that matter (for the theists), the mainline interpretation of "original sin", as being passed on by descent, not by behavioral imitation.

Re:Take that Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578065)

Yes! It is Gawd that selects the behavior! I knew it was Zeus all along! (Or G-Zeus, or Ganesh, or The Allah Yahweh, or my mighty dick.)

Re:Take that Darwin (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578049)

Wrong? Darwin wrote about Natural Selection. Sounds pretty right to me.

Re:Take that Darwin (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#45578051)

Let's make sure it can be repeated before celebrating.

Mod parent up. (1)

khasim (1285) | about a year ago | (#45578175)

It's a HUGE jump from finding that traumatic events can alter DNA to finding that training can used to pass specific behaviours through DNA.

Re:Mod parent up. (2)

invid (163714) | about a year ago | (#45578303)

It still won't work for giraffes stretching their necks.

Re:Mod parent up. (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45579443)

Just to clarify, that is what the research is claiming:

They showed a section of DNA responsible for sensitivity to the cherry blossom scent was made more active in the mice's sperm.

Both the mice's offspring, and their offspring, were "extremely sensitive" to cherry blossom and would avoid the scent, despite never having experiencing it in their lives.

Re:Mod parent up. (3, Insightful)

psithurism (1642461) | about a year ago | (#45579953)

Just to clarify, this is epigenetics. They don't believe they are altering DNA, this just changes the way the traits already encoded in the DNA are expressed.

Nothing is being passed through DNA.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#45580429)

I am more than a layman when it comes to biology of this sort, but my girlfriend is a molecular biologist that was working on diabetic research before she switched labs.

One of the things she worked on (I will explain best I can) is how diabetes gets transferred to offspring. She's told me before that they have wild-types that are not predisposed to diabetes, but when given diets that affect this, the predisposition of the offspring to have diabetes increases.

I understand that this is not quite the same thing as TFA, but the similarities strike me as interesting.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

psithurism (1642461) | about a year ago | (#45580803)

I'm not sure if you're reply was arguing with my post or just a good place to post this info. It is certainly relevant to the article and sounds like it is also epigenetic research.

Since the Mods will never find me this deep in the discussion tree: I too will admit that I never heard of epigenetics until this morning when I saw this article; so, if your girlfriend says the predispositions are totally changing in the DNA or that I'm confusing terminology, I will take her word for it.

I feel like I know stuff, because some principles of this were provided in highschool biology (among later unofficial learning sources), but at that time no studies or applications were presented to us, probably to prevent us from failing to grasp Darwinian evolution, which sadly many of my classmates did.

Now that you know I'm totally full of: Though TFA goes back and forth over whether it's epigenetics or DNA that's being modified, I'm pretty sure the abstract is saying that the expression of the gene is being modified in the gametes (which does involve some chemical changes around the gene) but leaving the DNA sequence intact.

In your girlfriend's research: I would suspect that insulin sensitivity of cells has some DNA sequences already encoded in the wild-types whose expression can then be modified by diet, and that the DNA itself is still only subject only to Darwinian forces.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

photo pilot (3425097) | about a year ago | (#45583157)

Is this a distinction without a difference?

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#45578235)

Celebrating?
You do understand that this finding makes biology as a science much harder?

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | about a year ago | (#45578561)

Harder means more complex. And with more complexity comes more possibilities for medicine and genetic treatment. Sounds like a reason for celebration to me.

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#45578597)

You do understand that this finding makes biology as a science much harder?

Is it perverse that I find this sort of thing exciting? It's this sort of thing that reminds us that they will be laughing at our level of scientific understanding 100 years from now.

Re: Take that Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45580977)

100 years? All they need to do is look at the "science" textbooks in Texas last week and they can laugh now.

Re:Take that Darwin (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45579163)

Celebrating?

As opposed to what? Bemoaning the fact that we used to be so happy in our ignorance?

You do understand that this finding makes biology as a science much harder?

Yes, well, unfortunately the truth doesn't care how easy you'd like life to be. Science is the pursuit of truth. Yes, the road ahead now looks a little more rubble-strewn, but when there's only one road, stopping to complain isn't going to speed the journey.

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#45579353)

Celebrating?

As opposed to what? Bemoaning the fact that we used to be so happy in our ignorance?

You do understand that this finding makes biology as a science much harder?

Yes, well, unfortunately the truth doesn't care how easy you'd like life to be. Science is the pursuit of truth. Yes, the road ahead now looks a little more rubble-strewn, but when there's only one road, stopping to complain isn't going to speed the journey.

And the thing is, it's not like we haven't suspected things like this for a long time... they were talking about the possibility of inherited neural generation pathways 50 years ago. The only thing that's new is that we now have proof and a more clearly defined theory, so it can't be ignored as purely hypothetical.

Re:Take that Darwin (1, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#45579597)

Yes, the road ahead now looks a little more rubble-strewn, but when there's only one road, stopping to complain isn't going to speed the journey.

Stopping to complain? Who said anything about stopping? Celebration sounds more like stopping to me.

What scientist do you think makes more progress? The one that throws a party every time he figures out that he made a mistake? Or the one that says "damn it", and goes back to work?

(Disclaimer: IANAS, not a scientist)

Re:Take that Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45582133)

Given that scientists are human the one who stops to party when they get it right. It'll condition the scientists to like being right! :)

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#45578269)

I duped the comment below, you can bring out the champagne.

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

infinitelink (963279) | about a year ago | (#45581123)

Yawn. :( This is really not that exciting or unknown already: my undergrad years saw us looking at studies and articles surrounding epigenetic inheritance, and Darwin has nothing to do with it: Darwin was Lamarkian btw, and the concepts of inherited traits between generations in Lamarkian evolution is quite a bit different, as things currently are understood, so this is not a point in its favor, neither in its disfavor, however.

Re:Take that Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578189)

Yes, as this study proves, Lamarck was not so wrong -by the way, Darwin was not totaly against Lamarck's theory-, nor the pioneers in the science of genetics: "for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me" (Exodus)...

Re:Take that Darwin (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#45578475)

Trofim Denisovitch Lysenko, thou art avenged!

Re:Take that Darwin (2)

Prune (557140) | about a year ago | (#45579453)

Wrong! The study does NOT support Lysenkoism (which itself is a rip-off of the older Lamarckism, though the damned Russophiles don't like to admit precedence to a Frenchman even in regards to the fraudulent pseudoscience derivative they promulgate) See http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4510525&cid=45578265 [slashdot.org] for why the study does not support what you claim it does.

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45578517)

I can't tell if you're trying be funny, but Lamarkian evolution isn't the same thing as epigenetics and the existence of epigenetics is not a problem for the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Re:Take that Darwin (2)

Flyskippy1 (625890) | about a year ago | (#45578627)

Yes, I'm trying to be funny. :) Lamarckian evolution (sorry for misspelling it in the original post) is pretty much completely discredited. Though at the time it was a good theory, it lacked a reasonable mechanism. While epigenetics displays some Lamarckian behavior, it doesn't completely fulfill the ability to pass on "acquired traits" and doesn't give the long term changes needed for species differentiation.

And of course Darwin was wrong in some respects. He was just much more correct than anyone before him.

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#45579009)

Lamarckian evolution applies to memetics.

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about a year ago | (#45580381)

Which may be of interest to sociologists and linguists, but not to biologists.

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#45578665)

On the Origin of Species even acknowledges "use and disuse inheritance".

Re:Take that Darwin (1, Offtopic)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#45578595)

As long as people acknowledge evolution exists, that's a plus to me. I've grown tired of this ridiculous denial of evolution occurring from fundamentalists/creationists.

michelangelo got his apology... (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | about a year ago | (#45579043)

From the Vatican...eventually. Will the scientific community be more eager to do the same with LaMark?

BTW: Both Darwin and LaMark were correct. Genes' expression, dictated by experience and culture, can be passed on, activating an otherwise inactive gene in later generations.

Yes, I know you had kidding on your mind. I just wanted to get the science straight.

Re:michelangelo got his apology... (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#45581287)

From the Vatican...eventually. Will the scientific community be more eager to do the same with LaMark?

BTW: Both Darwin and LaMark were correct. Genes' expression, dictated by experience and culture, can be passed on, activating an otherwise inactive gene in later generations.

Yes, I know you had kidding on your mind. I just wanted to get the science straight.

Did you maybe mean Galileo? I'm not sure of your point, though, because the catholics believe in evolution and even the dispute with Galileo was about politics, not science (the church actually agreed with the science in theory, but said the proof had flaws, which modern science confirms -- basically, Galileo got the right answer, but based his thesis on wrong assumptions).

Re:Take that Darwin (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | about a year ago | (#45579575)

Score one for Lamarkian evolution. (And epigenetics). I knew Darwin was wrong...

...

Score one for Lamarkian evolution. (And epigenetics). I knew Darwin was only partly right...

That might be more accurate...

I wonder, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45577957)

can an aversion to working for a living be passed on through DNA as well?

Re:I wonder, (3, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#45578013)

(looks around...)

Yes.

Re:I wonder, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578129)

Leisure is the goal. Then you get to work on what interests you. Perhaps you've had the "slave to ignorant motherfucking bosses" gene inserted into your DNA?

The Animus may be possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45577967)

Oblig

Re:The Animus may be possible (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45578043)

Yeah, story-justifying techno-babble actually meets reality. Maybe there was some sort of elaborate conspiracy to keep this from us.

Re:The Animus may be possible (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45578291)

Techno-babble: a term used by non-nerds to describe speech or writing by those more educated than them that they don't understand.

Re:The Animus may be possible (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#45580079)

I thought it was the words in a Star Trek script indicating that the actor should just like totally make some shit up or something.

Re:The Animus may be possible (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45583569)

Of course there's some made-up shit in any science fiction -- dilythium crystals, mitichlorians, grabonic radiation (that one's mine), but most "technobabble" is actually real words, or words made up from Greek or Latin roots that describe the fictional technology (like "tachyons"). A literate, educated person can make the meanings out by context.

I wrote about that in my journal today. A friend read Nobots and some of the words weren't in her vocabulary. "Those big words -- are they real or can I look 'em up in a dictionary?" Of course, she's not a nerd.

Re:The Animus may be possible (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45584123)

PS - The word "robotics" was coined to discuss a fictional piece of engineering, as when Asimov coined it, robots didn't exist.

Re:The Animus may be possible (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45583361)

No, no it's not, you damned troll.

eureka (3, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year ago | (#45577985)

This explains why babies see the windows splash screen and begin crying.

BTW, turns out Lamarck got it right.

Re:eureka (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45578651)

BTW, turns out Lamarck got it right.

Not at all. Lamarck's ideas involved concepts such as inheritance through use. e.g. animals that stretch to get higher leaves of trees will stretch their necks and these longer-necked animals pass on that trait to their children. This isn't what happens and it isn't what epigenetics does. Epigenetics add another layer to how natural selection works and might even accelerate natural selection, but it doesn't directly lead to changes in the genetic code and its effects can washed out over a few generations.

Re:eureka (2)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#45579027)

So why are IQ scores getting higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect)? The more we use our brain, the smarter our offspring get.

Re:eureka (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about a year ago | (#45579119)

Or the better equipped our offspring are to that particular style test.

Re:eureka (1)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about a year ago | (#45579287)

Because, due to improvements in health care and nutrition, we are better able to develop our mental capabilities during childhood. It's not that our genes are actually self-improving - although nutrition etc. may be improving sperm health and thus improving the natural selection process at conception. It's just that our existing genetic potential can be more fully realized.

Re:eureka (4, Insightful)

umafuckit (2980809) | about a year ago | (#45579297)

So why are IQ scores getting higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect)? The more we use our brain, the smarter our offspring get.

There are plenty of other, less far-fetched, explanations for the Flynn effect. This is "only" a correlation but it brings up some important issues: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IQatWoN_GDP_IQ.png [wikipedia.org]

Don't forget that intelligence is hard to define and test. The IQ test probes some correlates of intelligence, but it can be gamed and you can train for it (which is another reason to be cautious about the Flynn effect--conventional education effectively "trains" people for IQ tests and nowadays more people spend more time in education. The Flynn effect is tailing off in many 1st world countries, which is consistent with this explanation.). e.g. Digit span (forward and backward) is tested in an IQ test. Without training, most people have a hard time reaching ten digits. However, with training you can recall 100 or more digits. You haven't become smarter, you've just trained once particular thing. Ditto with other aspects of the test. This is why those "brain training" games are pseudo-scientific bollocks. They make you better at the game, they don't make you smarter. It's possible that regularly "using" your brain will stave off dementia, and experience in life counts for a lot, but nobody has shown that you become "smarter" through training.

Re:eureka (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45579341)

So why are IQ scores getting higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect)?

Didn't get as far as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect#Proposed_explanations [wikipedia.org] , then? Hint: Lamarckian inheritance is not required to explain the Flynn Effect.

The more we use our brain, the smarter our offspring get.

That's not a logical conclusion to draw. The Flynn Effect is a broadly average trend in populations, not a simple case of individual children being more intelligent than their specific parents. It's more memetics than genetics.

Pretty much everyone's general understanding of, say, the laws of the universe is much better today than it was 100 years ago, but that's no reason to conclude it got passed down in sperm and eggs.

Re:eureka (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#45579669)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism [wikipedia.org] :

"Lamarckism (or Lamarckian inheritance) is the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring (also known as heritability of acquired characteristics or soft inheritance)."

Intelligence seems to be one of those acquired characteristics. Why wouldn't Lamarckism be a mechanism for the Flynn effect?

Re:eureka (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45581775)

Intelligence seems to be one of those acquired characteristics. Why wouldn't Lamarckism be a mechanism for the Flynn effect?

First, the Flynn Effect doesn't really hint at anything to do with direct inheritance - it's measured across whole generations of populations, not from parent to child. Secondly, intelligence as measured by an IQ test is not solely - quite possibly not even mainly - an inherent property of an organism determined by genetic or epigenetic make up. There are far more likely ways for an organism to pass it on - by education and imitation, for example, and not just from the parents.

One presumes that in this new study they've ruled out any kind of learning by isolating the children from the parents (and they've also studied the children's genes to measure the increased response of the gene in question). Not so easily done in the real world, and there's no need or reason to invoke Lamarckism to explain it.

If a parent (including adoptive ones) loves crosswords and sudoku, their kids - at least before they become sullen teenagers who hate you and never asked to be born! - might well pick up the habit, which might* well put them at an advantage over Cleatus's kids when it comes to the IQ test.

*couldn't hurt.

Re:eureka (3, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#45579449)

So why are IQ scores getting higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect)? The more we use our brain, the smarter our offspring get.

Show me an IQ test that has stayed the same over time -- I think you'll find that as people get better training to score well on IQ tests, IQ tests also shift to be more "fair" to the population in general. I remember administering a "traditional" IQ test from the 50's to someone a few year's back -- they scored abysmally because the test assumed they'd understand concepts and turns of phrase that have completely left our society today. IQ tests used to be very male WASP-centric. Now the same test has a wider population base that it can sample from, making more North Americans score higher than they used to.

(Older IQ tests assumed people had a basic sense of animal husbandry, farm crops [eg the difference between hay and wheat] and other non-urban things. Also, they assumed that a telephone was "dialled" via a rotor. These are just a few of the more obvious examples).

Oh yes, and because IQ tests are supposed to be normalized, a proper IQ test will have the same distribution over a population year-over-year. You can't measure an increase in intelligence with IQ.

Re:eureka (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#45579633)

From the wikipedia article on the Flynn effect:

one way to see changes in norms over time is to conduct a study in which the same test-takers take both an old and new version of the same test. Doing so confirms IQ gains over time. Some IQ tests, for example tests used for military draftees in NATO countries in Europe, report raw scores, and those also confirm a trend of rising scores over time.

Re:eureka (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#45579983)

From the wikipedia article on the Flynn effect:

one way to see changes in norms over time is to conduct a study in which the same test-takers take both an old and new version of the same test. Doing so confirms IQ gains over time. Some IQ tests, for example tests used for military draftees in NATO countries in Europe, report raw scores, and those also confirm a trend of rising scores over time.

Exactly... but my point is that that's how you'd expect things to work out, based on the set of people under the normalized curve reaching into more global societies. It's just the IQ test methodology bumping up against the global society. IQ tests are known to test how well you score on IQ tests, and also test how well the test makers plotted the questions to the selected curve. They are about as strong an indicator of intelligence as a shotgun clustering is of marksmanship. I say this as someone whose IQ score has continually risen over the decades from its starting low of 138 :)

I'm not discounting the Flynn effect; I'm saying that the results of it are encoded right in to the original process of how IQ tests are created. The effect is exactly what you'd expect, and has nothing to do with actual intelligence shifts.

Re:eureka (1)

smaddox (928261) | about a year ago | (#45580545)

Re:eureka (1)

smaddox (928261) | about a year ago | (#45580551)

.... tried to change the wording after hitting submit, but only got half-way through. Has hell frozen over yet? I'm still waiting for an edit button.

Re:eureka (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45583399)

So why are IQ scores getting higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect)?

Because high IQ, anti-social nerds in the past few generations had new tools to find each other and reproduce. Prior to that they would just die alone in their respective villages/caves or be stuck marrying the local moron.

Re:eureka (1)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about a year ago | (#45579295)

Check your sarcasm-detector. I think you've got a fault.

Right Conclusion, Wrong Mechanism (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578139)

These "scientists" suggest that the "DNA" of the offspring was modified.
In fact, the Flying Spaghetti Monster has modified their results to look this way.

The truth is that His Noodly Appendage is wrapped around each living being and their offspring.
When something happens to a living being, the Flying Spaghetti Monster transfers the sensation down His appendage to the offspring.

RAmen!

Re:Right Conclusion, Wrong Mechanism (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#45578247)

No, it's even simpler than that. All those strands of "DNA" are actually the myriad blessed semolina spawn of HNA the FSM (Peas Be Upon Him). He is not wrapped around us...He is within us, to help mice (and people) learn and advance from their dark and primitive past!

We are all children of the glorious FSM!

Lamarck (1)

brianerst (549609) | about a year ago | (#45578167)

See, Lamarck was just like Tesla - a genius ahead of his time! Darwin/Edison gets all the glory but finally science catches up to the genius of Lamarck/Tesla.

I predict Rube Goldberg is next - his designs just seem insanely complicated, but it will turn out that a mousetrap really is a required step in every mechanical process...

Re:Lamarck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578239)

See, Lamarck was just like Tesla - a genius ahead of his time! Darwin/Edison gets all the glory but finally science catches up to the genius of Lamarck/Tesla.

I predict Rube Goldberg is next - his designs just seem insanely complicated, but it will turn out that a mousetrap really is a required step in every mechanical process...

Screw Lamarck; what this really means is that Alien: Resurrection was a masterpiece.

Re:Lamarck (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45578261)

You're joking right? Tesla was a fraud. Let the steam punk people flame the crap out of me now.

Re:Lamarck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578289)

You know who else is a fraud?

Re:Lamarck (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about a year ago | (#45578983)

I always thought Tesla was an electrical engineer racing to the patent office with new products and ideas like every one else in the late 1800s. I don't know what that has to do with steam punk.

Re:Lamarck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45579493)

Right! AC current is far too dangerous for household use, as Edison proved by electrocuting that elephant!

Re:Lamarck (1)

photo pilot (3425097) | about a year ago | (#45583245)

Tesla had not much to do with steam that I know of. He did basically invent the 3 phase AC system that powers the entire world, so I am not sure where the fraud is??????

Re:Goldberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578537)

I've found a truly wonderful proof that mousetraps are the universal operators of mechanics, but the lameness filter is too small to contain the proof! :(

The rough draft goes something like this: Assume mousetraps are required for every mechanical process (given by parent). Every mechanical process that's not a mousetrap can be sub-divided into two or more mechanical processes, each of which requires a mousetrap. The recursive subdivision only terminates at mousetraps, so any mechanical process can be constructed entirely from mousetraps. Therefore, if you can prove your conjecture, then I can prove mine using your proof as a step. :-)

But I'm a bit doubtful that your proof would be valid, since I'm at a loss for how one would construct a self-resetting loop of mouse traps... mouse traps mouse-trapped onto bigger mouse traps? That way when you trigger the biggest mousetrap, it pulls all the levers on the little ones and then hits the triggers on some other mousetraps that fling the catch bars into place? Or maybe you're using have-a-heart traps or something?

My brain hurts just thinking about this; I think it might be easier to use gears as the universal mechanical operator and then somehow find a reduction from a mousetraps to gears.

p.s. I'm glad you didn't suggest that a popped balloon, since it's kinda hard to unpop one of those.

Re:Lamarck (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#45578849)

Lamarck was just like Tesla - a genius ahead of his time!

Only if the mice easily catch fire and pass on combustibility ;-)

Test the 6th sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578177)

Did they have a group where the sperm was collected prior to the learning?
Did they differentiate between a living vs dead parent?

You know 'cause it could be non-physical phenomena until that's ruled out. ;-)

Laugh all you want, but there are people who would consider that possible and it may as well be ruled out while killing all these mice. Right? Because they don't actually know the mechanism at this time.

Right Conclusion, Wrong Mechanism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578199)

These "scientists" suggest that the "DNA" of the offspring was modified.
In fact, the Invisible Pink Unicorn has modified their results to look this way.

The truth is that Her Sacred Horn touches each living being and their offspring.
When something happens to a living being, the Invisible Pink Unicorn transfers the sensation via her horn to the offspring.

Pinkamen!

Bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578213)

I got my good nose for bullshit from my dad.

Assassin's Creed was right all along (1)

Michael Battaglia (3411373) | about a year ago | (#45578249)

Animus coming soon

Re:Assassin's Creed was right all along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578931)

So Abstergo Industries dug up one of the Anima relics?

You -Lambs- don't know what you're getting yourselves into.

They did not pass "aversion" to their grandkids (5, Informative)

belphegore (66832) | about a year ago | (#45578265)

The grandkids had enhanced receptors for that particular smell. They specifically did not test for, and point out in the paper that they do not claim that the AVERSION was passed on, only that F1 and F2 had structures in the brain that are enlarged compared to control, and that are associated with the sense of smell for the chemical that was used to prime the F0 generation.

Much better science-savvy writeup by my cousin on the Nat Geo blog:

http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/01/mice-inherit-specific-memories-because-epigenetics/ [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:They did not pass "aversion" to their grandkids (4, Informative)

NonSequor (230139) | about a year ago | (#45578841)

The premise seems to be:

1. There is a gene associated with a brain pathway responding to the smell.
2. The more this gene is expressed, the more the stronger the pathway.
3. Brain functions that depend on this pathway have a feedback mechanism that result in hypomethylation of the gene in at least sperm cells (egg cells weren't mentioned). This increases expression in the descendants. From what I understand, hypo methylation does not entail any alteration of base pair sequences.
4. As the parent post mentioned, this doesn't mean passing on aversion/affinity, but potentially increased sensitivity which may aid in speed of learning these traits.

That's based on my reading of the abstract. The abstract didn't mention any kind of known or discovered chemical signal for the brain activity to result in the hypomethylation in the sperm. My question would be if anything else in the experimental protocol could have triggered this in a manner not directly caused by the brain activity. My next question would be if this work can be reproduced with a different chemical pathway.

Re:They did not pass "aversion" to their grandkids (1)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about a year ago | (#45579059)

Curious. But honestly I'm super-skeptical of this kind of result. I'd need to see some replications of the study, with complete blinding to the researchers as to which animals were in the control after the first (trained) generation.

Re:They did not pass "aversion" to their grandkids (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | about a year ago | (#45579715)

Even in the blog post you link, the enhanced startle response was present in f1 and f2 generations. I read that as the aversion was passed on.

Ten days after this fear training, Dias allowed the animals to mate. And that's where the crazy begins. The offspring (known as the F1 generation) show an increased startle to the fruity smell even when they have never encountered the smell before, and thus have no obvious reason to be sensitive to it. And their reaction is specific: They do not startle to another odor called propanol. Craziest of all, their offspring (the F2 generation) show the same increased sensitivity to acetophenone.

Re:They did not pass "aversion" to their grandkids (1)

belphegore (66832) | about a year ago | (#45579817)

Yes, for the initial test group. But two things (quotes from blog not TFP):

1. "startle" is not necessarily aversion

For example, the researchers didn’t do a control experiment where the F0 animals are exposed to the fruity odor without the shock. So it’s unclear whether the “memory” they’re transmitting to their offspring is a fear memory, per se, or rather an increased sensitivity to an odor.

and 2. not for the group where they used IVF to create the offspring to eliminate some possible biases:

To control for these possibilities, the researchers performed an in vitro fertilization (IVF) experiment in which they trained male animals to fear acetophenone and then 10 days later harvested the animals’ sperm. They sent the sperm to another lab across campus where it was used to artificially inseminate female mice. Then the researchers looked at the brains of the offspring. They had larger M71 glomeruli, just as before. (The researchers couldn’t perform behavioral tests on these animals because of laboratory regulations about animal quarantine.)

You know, THAT section of DNA. (1)

shockbeton (669384) | about a year ago | (#45578277)

FTFA: "They showed a section of DNA responsible for sensitivity to the cherry blossom scent was made more active in the mice's sperm." Oh. Gotcha. THAT section of DNA. Amazing that there are sections of DNA presumably responsible for 'sensitivity' to every possible scent, sound, and visual pattern. Either this is the worst bit of scientific journalism or the worst bit of science I've read in years.

Re:You know, THAT section of DNA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578509)

FTFA: "They showed a section of DNA responsible for sensitivity to the cherry blossom scent was made more active in the mice's sperm."

Oh. Gotcha. THAT section of DNA. Amazing that there are sections of DNA presumably responsible for 'sensitivity' to every possible scent, sound, and visual pattern.

Either this is the worst bit of scientific journalism or the worst bit of science I've read in years.

The abstract of the Nature article suggests "hypomethylation in the Olfr151 gene"... a type of epigenetic signal (one that is not the simple ATGC sequence) that involves methyl groups sticking to the strand as a signal for that gene. I am excited to learn more about the role that methylation may plan in our everyday brain activities like learning.

Old news (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#45578285)

Everybody knows that mice inherit the smell of cheese.
But the successful ones avoid it, unless it comes with the smell of dead mouse.
That's why they say:
The second mouse gets the cheese.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578933)

Keeping with the rodent theme:

- Even if you win the rat race - You are still a rat

- Some will sell their dreams for small desires or lose the race to rats

- The second mouse get the cheese

- By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.

- I wouldn't mind the rat race - if the rats would lose once in a while.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45579355)

The second mouse gets the cheese.

And a mouse carcass!

frist p5ot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578359)

A sad world. At faster than this appeared...saying to Fight what has

Does it work in humans? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45578755)

Indians sure smell bad, does that explain it?

Rats! (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#45578809)

Are dumb.

Instead they should have created an aversion against rotating
iron wire objects and mazes.

DNA methylation (4, Informative)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#45578865)

Although I don't have any evidence (this is /.), it seems clear that this is probably simply yet another manifestation of DNA methylation.

As I understand it, most of the genome is modulated and/or inactivated by DNA methylation of primarily CpG sites (aparently to prevent junk dna from running amok like in cancer, but also to control differentiation/specialization and). Although the mechanisms and pathways for this are currently not well understood, it seems likely that the proteins that governed the response to this stimulus was effectively coded in the DNA already, but inhibited by DNA methylation. By changing the methylation in the DNA of the gametes this response was able to be passed through to the offspring.

The bigger question is how the methylation is done. If it is done by environmental exposure (e.g, the brain and the gamete cells are over-exposed to the same stimulus from the bloodstream and respond the the same way by changing the methylation pattern to favor a response to that stimulus), that seems fairly straightforward. If, however, the brain can create simulation that causes specific methylation in the gamets, that is a whole nuther ball of wax...

In this experiment they targeted a specific olfactory pathway in the mice (Olfr151) and trained them with a behavior. Apparently, in later generations there was less methylation of the gene corresponding to this pathway providing a more enhanced response to this smell and apparently learned to distinguish this smell better. To me that isn't transferring a memory, it's really more like pre-conditioning to match a learned state.

The difference is subtle, but one way to look at it it like earning money vs inheriting it where the memory is the "how-to-make-money" part and the dna-methylation pattern is the "money". Although the offspring still have money, their behavior is not necessarily the same as the parents.

never say never, it would seem (1)

museumpeace (735109) | about a year ago | (#45579095)

Re:never say never, it would seem (1)

Prune (557140) | about a year ago | (#45579473)

The study does NOT support Lysenkoism (which itself is a rip-off of the older Lamarckism, though the slashdotting Russophiles don't like to admit precedence to a Frenchman even in regards to the fraudulent pseudoscience derivative they promulgate) See http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4510525&cid=45578265 [slashdot.org] for why the study does not support what you claim it does.

Vivisection is medical fraud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45579269)

Vivisection is Medical Fraud

When an agency like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) throws about $15 billion each year—nearly half its entire research budget—at thousands of experiments on animals, it's impossible for the public to keep track of all the cruel and useless projects for which its tax dollars are being squandered to cause animals pain and suffering.
And even though public opposition to experiments on animals is greater than ever, there is apparently no project too trivial or too stupid for NIH to throw money at.
Case in point: Right now, NIH is funding dozens of bizarre, stomach-churning sexual behavior studies in which animals have the sexual pleasure area of their brains damaged and their genitals mutilated. Animals are sexually stimulated by experimenters, observed having sex, and subjected to other twisted procedures.
NIH has spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on these sex experiments, and these five are just some of the most upsetting projects currently receiving funding:
1. Mice and rats electrically stimulated after penises mutilated and injected with chemicals
Location: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Experiments: Experimenters cut all the skin off the penises of live mice and rats, electrically stimulated their penises with electrodes for up to five minutes, and injected their penises with various chemicals to see if they'd sustain an erection. The animals were then killed, and their penises were cut apart.
Cost to taxpayers: $2,792,144

2. Mice's sex drive tested after brains burned
Location: Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
Experiments: Experimenters locked female mice into restraint devices, drilled holes into their skulls, and burned lesions into their brains. The females were then presented with urine samples from castrated and intact males, and the amount of time they spent sniffing each urine sample was recorded. In a subsequent experiment, the females were placed with males and the females' sexual receptivity as indicated by their back-arching behavior was observed and rated. All of the mice were killed and dissected.
Cost to taxpayers: $1,505,173

3. Rats' sex drive tested following Prozac injections and removal of ovaries
Location: Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas
Experiments: Experimenters injected female rats with antidepressant drugs and placed them with male hamsters. The females' sexual receptivity, as indicated by the downward arching of their backs, was observed and measured. The experimenters then manipulated the female rats, surgically removing their ovaries and injecting sex hormones, and again observed the rats' sexual behavior.
Cost to taxpayers: $2,024,949

4. Hamsters' sex drive tested following brain damage
Location: University of California–Berkeley, Berkeley, California
Experiments: Experimenters cut into the skulls of female hamsters and implanted tubes into their brains and pumps into their scalps. Saline or hormones related to sexual behavior were pumped into the females' brains, and the animals were videotaped as they were able to see, smell, and hear—but not touch—a male hamster. The sexual receptivity of the females to male hamsters was measured through their vaginal scent markings. Experimenters used brushes to stimulate the female hamsters, and the extent of sexual receptivity as indicated by their back-arching behavior was observed and rated. The animals were then killed, and their brains were dissected.
Cost to taxpayers: $1,817,502

5. Rats' interest in drugs tested following brain damage and sex withdrawal
Location: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Experiments: Experimenters measured the time taken for male rats to mount females, insert their penises, and ejaculate. The experimenters then restrained the rats, cut into their skulls, implanted tubes into their brains, and pumped in a chemical that would block the rats' ability to process sexual pleasure. The experimenters then watched the rats having sex, withheld sex from the rats for seven to 28 days, and noted the rats' increased interest in an amphetamine reward. All the animals were killed, and their brains were dissected.
Cost to taxpayers: $4,547,605

Re: Vivisection is medical fraud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45579985)

All that rat sex sounds kind of hot; Picts or didn't happen. ...though, for all the research you've done, maybe you're just saving the best ones for yourself.

Epigenetics (1)

avandesande (143899) | about a year ago | (#45579527)

I can't believe this wasn't mentioned in the article... seems like a repeatable experiment to prove its existence.

Sentient beings are a mix of hardware and software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45579713)

There is a lot about the world which humans with all their arrogance don't yet understand.

How can you explain the "instinctive" response of various animals to dangers they have
never seen before ? I believe the possibility exists that many "memories" which are important
for survival are passed on via some sort of mechanism which involves encoding at the genetic
level. I think smell is only one of numerous mechanism which allows information to be transmitted from one
generation of organism to the next, and that some day science may actually find a biochemical
basis for what many would call a "soul". Sure, all this is laughable now, but go back in time 200
years and tell someone that in your time you have a box you can hold in your hand which enables
you to talk to someone who is thousands of miles away and you'd be burned as a witch.

Humanity may at this time only know a fraction of all there is to know. I personally believe that
is pretty damned cool. Of course all that we see may just be a simulation, too, but if it is a simulation
it is one hell of a good one.

.

Re:Sentient beings are a mix of hardware and softw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45579907)

> I think smell is only one of numerous mechanism which allows information to be transmitted from one generation of organism to the next, and that some day science may actually find a biochemical basis for what many would call a "soul" ..

This is a technology site, we don't believe in Woo-ism here ..

Re:Sentient beings are a mix of hardware and softw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45580133)

> I think smell is only one of numerous mechanism which allows information to be transmitted from one generation of organism to the next, and that some day science may actually find a biochemical basis for what many would call a "soul" ..

This is a technology site, we don't believe in Woo-ism here ..

I wrote the original post to which you replied.

I find it amusing that you presume to speak ( "we" ) for everyone on this site. That reveals
nothing so much as a personality flaw on your part which involves a profound
lack of self-knowledge regarding your own limitations as a single human being.
Others might choose to explain such behavior as a symptom of immaturity, which would also
make sense, because usually those who have reached what could be properly called
adulthood know better than to presume to speak for everyone else.

In any case, you missed my point entirely, and ironically your assumption regarding "Woo-ism"
could not be further from what I was trying to say. Over the span of hundreds or in some
cases thousands of years, much of what had once seemed unfathomable and mysterious
to humans has been revealed to have a basis in processes which are now understandable on a
logical scientific basis. I suspect this will continue to be the case with stuff which is even now
unexplainable with the current state of human knowledge. This has nothing to do with what
you call "Woo-ism" and everything to do with the continued advancement of human knowledge.

Some people prefer to consider phenomena which science cannot explain as the sort of thing
which is only understandable by some sort of god, but I prefer to consider such phenomena
as proof of gaps in human knowledge. So I am not a "Woo-ist", but YOU are a douche bag with
your snarky punkass attitude which some day may well earn you a well deserved ass-whipping.

.

.

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