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A Comeback for Lamarckian Evolution?

Some studies indicate that there are traits that can get passed on from mother to offspring that are extra-genetic — meaning they aren’t in the DNA. These are called epigenetic changes.


In Feig’s study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment–given toys, exercise, and social interaction–for two weeks during adolescence. The animals’ memory improved–an unsurprising finding, given that enrichment has been previously shown to boost brain function. The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment.