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Fears can be inherited through smell

29
Jul
2014

According to a new study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the mechanism might be scent — at least when the fear occurs in mice. We found that the mother that expresses fear in the presence of their newborn pups passes her fear to her pups through scent, says Jacek Debiec, a psychiatrist at The University of Michigan and a co-author of the study. In the study, Debiec and his team exposed adult female mice to the smell of peppermint, a neutral scent, while giving them mild electric shocks. This produced long-term fear response in the female mice that researchers were then able to trigger using peppermint.

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