Demonstrated: like father, like son ... at least in the mood

Surely you've heard more than once (and more than two) the expression 'Like father Like Son' When someone refers to a child is the same or has many common characteristics with their parents. What does science say about it? ¿Is this statement true? According to one study, in part yes.

More and more investigations are showing thatA genetic inheritance affects mood disorders such as depression. According to a recent study, brain structure and mood disorders are genetically passed between mothers and daughters.

In Scientific American tell how the researchers of a new study conducted in 35 healthy families and published in the journal The Journal of Neuroscience have shown that the corticolimbic system of the brain, which is the one that regulates emotions and is associated with the depressive symptoms, it is more likely to be transmitted from mother to daughter than from father to son.


"This finding, which supports previous evidence from animal research and clinical studies on depression, could provide a better understanding of the role that the generic plays in mood disorders," explain these experts, who say this "It would allow a better identification of risk groups and take preventive measures".

Study on genetics in families

The study's lead author, Fumiko Hoeft, says the uniqueness of the study lies in the fact that this group of researchers is the first to study complete families and scan both parents and children "to see how similar their brain networks are."


In this line, remember that nowadays we know, although Genetics can be complicated, to whom we owe the color of our eyes. "We joke about inheriting stubbornness or order, but in fact we've never seen it in human brain networks before", argues the researcher, who assures that his study" was an impact test of the use of a new design that has great potential ".

The researcher recalls that both nature and context and parenting have a relevant role in how the children will be. Thus, he emphasizes that another important point of his work is that shows "the profound influence of the impact of the prenatal effect on offspring, something we often forget". "The prenatal contribution is taken into account in the most serious cases, such as alcohol and tobacco, but it happens to everyone: a mother who is stressed generates an impact on how her son will be," she adds.


Since Scientific American point out that this finding is "particularly relevant" since a few weeks ago the Committee of Experts on Preventive Services of the United States recommended monitoring the presence of Depressive symptoms in pregnant women and mothers who have recently given birth.

Study on genetics between mothers and daughters

To conduct the study, Hoeft and his team they took magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain of each member of the family and examined "discrete units of volume in the cortico-limbic system". Thus, they found that the association between the volume of gray matter in the amygdala, the anterior cingulate cortex, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus (all are part of the cortico-limbic system) was much greater in mother-daughter duos than in any other pairing of parents and children. This, they explain, can in turn "suggest a significant pattern of specifically female transmission on the maternal side in mood disorders such as depression. "

Although it is a pioneering research and with interesting results, we must be cautious. As the psychologist at the University of Quebec Geneviève Piché explained Scientific American, do not forget that only 35 families were studied and 35 were healthy. "We can not be sure that these results can be generalized to depressed families, per se. We will have to wait for future studies in depressed mothers and see if we get similar results, "he adds.

This is not the only limitation of the study. Hoeft himself points out that the research shows patterns of intergenerational transmission but it does not differentiate between the type of influence that is given: genetics, prenatal or postnatal impacts, or some combination of the three could also be responsible. "It's not just a factor, it's a accumulation of many risk factors that intervene or cause a child to develop depressive symptoms ", adds the psychologist in this sense.

Therefore, the Hoeft team has already marked its new objective: will address this limitation in a new study. They will do this by examining magnetic resonance imaging of parents and children in families that used different methods of in vitro fertilization.

Angela R. Bonachera

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