Scientists have proven that we may pass the benefits of physical and mental exercises to our brain onto our children through improved learning ability. And that happens without any alterations in the DNA.
That’s why people over 50 years old should do brain twisting exercises such as puzzles to keep their mind sharp. As such, they can delay the onset of dementia and diseases such as Alzheimer.
The German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease (DZNE) exposed mice to a stimulating environment with plenty of exercises and found out their offspring benefitted.
Reportedly, compared to the control group, the young ones of the mice in the stimulating environment achieved a much better learning ability. There were also significant improvements in their synaptic plasticity, i.e., how well cells communicate with each other as well as the cellular basis for learning. That's the epigenetics phenomena.
What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is a field of study that attempts to understand how the environment interacts with the genes.
For a long time, we’ve believed children can’t inherit skills that don’t modify the DNA sequence, but now scientists say otherwise.
Scientists have found that some lifestyle circumstances such as trauma and stress can affect your offspring. For instance, poor diet not only exposes you to the risk of diseases but also poses the threat of diseases to your children.
And that’s the phenomenon known as ‘epigenetic’ inheritance, which is in no way associated with changes in the DNA sequence.
How Offspring Acquire the Physical and Mental Benefits of their Parents
Parents pass the physical and mental benefits through RNA molecules contained in sperms alongside the paternal DNA.
According to Prof Andre Fischer from DZNE, the RNA molecules alter the brain development. That boosts the connections of the neurons resulting in a cognitive advantage for the offspring.
Prof Marcus Pembrey from Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health has something to say. He asserts this research would probably establish if other factors contribute to individual’s intelligence than just genetic inheritance and learning after birth.
He also adds that if science proves the system of offspring inheriting physical and mental applies to humans, then it could explain the Flynn effect. The Flynn effect tries to explain why the population IQ has continued to rise every decade for the last century.
Prof Simon Fishel from the Private Care Group thinks the research is fascinating as it increases the evidence that how we conduct our lives will have an impact on our offspring.