Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:

Lamarck revisited: epigenetic inheritance of ancestral odor fear conditioning


A study shows that when mice are taught to fear an odor, both their offspring and the next generation are born fearing it. The gene for an olfactory receptor activated by the odor is specifically demethylated in the germ line and the olfactory circuits for detecting the odor are enhanced.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Model for epigenetic inheritance of odor fear conditioning.

Katie Vicari


  1. Anisman, H., Hayley, S., Kelly, O., Borowski, T. & Merali, Z. Behav. Neurosci. 115, 443–454 (2001).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Dias, B.G & Ressler, K.J. Nat. Neurosci. 17, 89–96 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Buck, L. & Axel, R. Cell 65, 175–187 (1991).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Razin, A. & Riggs, A.D. Science 210, 604–610 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Ficz, G. et al. Nature 473, 398–402 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Turner, B.M. Cell 111, 285–291 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Szyf, M. Clin. Genet. 81, 341–349 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Reik, W., Dean, W. & Walter, J. Science 293, 1089–1093 (2001).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Hajkova, P. et al. Mech. Dev. 117, 15–23 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Grossniklaus, U., Kelly, B., Ferguson-Smith, A.C., Pembrey, M. & Lindquist, S. Nat. Rev. Genet. 14, 228–235 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Rodgers, A.B., Morgan, C.P., Bronson, S.L., Revello, S. & Bale, T.L. J. Neurosci. 33, 9003–9012 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Moshe Szyf.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Szyf, M. Lamarck revisited: epigenetic inheritance of ancestral odor fear conditioning. Nat Neurosci 17, 2–4 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing