Mothers pass on their emotional brain structure to their daughters, says study

Mothers pass on their emotional brain structure to their daughters, says study

A study by University of California has found that brain structure governing emotions is passed on from mothers to daughters. Read on to know more.

In a first, a study released by the University of California, San Francisco, has found that the structure of the brain circuitry called corticolimbic, is more likely to be passed on from mothers to daughters than from mothers to sons or father to children of either gender.

The corticolimbic governs emotional regulation and plays a critical role in mood disorders including depression.

An important observation made by lead author, Dr Fumiko Hoeft, a UCSF associate professor of psychiatry, is that this study does not suggest that depression is passed on from the mother to the daughter.

In an article by Sciencedaily, Dr Hoeft is reported as saying, "Many factors play a role in depression -- genes that are not inherited from the mother, social environment, and life experiences, to name only three. Mother-daughter transmission is just one piece of it."

Dr Hoeft conducted this research on 35 healthy families and her work was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The study is the first to use MRI scans on parents and their children to understand the corticolimbic system. The study has opened up avenues to understand two major developments:

  • To better understand depression and related neuropsychiatric disorders (most conditions indicated intergenerational transmission)
  • To better understand brain patterns inherited from parents and their impact on children

However, the study is not free from limitations. It does not differentiate between the potential effects of genetics, prenatal conditions and postnatal conditions on the inheritance of brain structures.

Also Read: A man's weight can affect the genes passed on by his sperm, says study

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj