It has long been believed that genetically determined, but not environmentally acquired, phenotypes can be inherited. However, a large number of recent studies have reported that phenotypes acquired from an animal's environment can be transmitted to the next generation. Moreover, epidemiology studies have hinted that a similar phenomenon occurs in humans. This type of inheritance does not involve gene mutations that change DNA sequence. Instead, it is thought that epigenetic changes in chromatin, such as DNA methylation and histone modification, occur. In this review, we will focus on one exciting new example of this phenomenon, transfer across generations of enhanced synaptic plasticity and memory formation induced by exposure to an "enriched" environment.
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