It’s possible that the impact of traumatic experiences may be epigenetically inherited via molecular memory that is passed down through generations. Although still controversial, new research takes this concept a step further and demonstrates that traumatic behavior could be reversed when it would otherwise be inherited. A study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, was conducted by researchers at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich and showed that behavioral symptoms associated with trauma in male mice and their offspring can be undone with environmental enrichment. Specifically, this reversal and removal of traumatic symptoms were found to be linked to the epigenetic regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene.
The likelihood of developing behavioral and psychiatric disorders later in life is thought to be increased by trauma. The detrimental effects of such an event can be seen in the children of those who were impacted by it, despite these children never having experienced it themselves. This inherited molecular memory can be detected in the child’s epigenome.