We Really Do Turn Into Our Mothers, According to Science
Like mother, like daughter. That’s not just a funny joke, but rather, it’s a scientific fact.
A 2016 study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found, children’s brains are more aligned with their mother’s than their father’s. That includes both the good things — like your mother’s caring nature and her thoughtful responses — and her bad things — like any potential neurosis. And that goes double for daughters.
According to the study, which followed 35 healthy families, the brain’s corticolimbic system, which Scientific American explained is responsible for “the regulation of emotion—and associated with the manifestation of depressive symptoms—” is more likely to be passed down from mother to daughter than from mother to son.
This findings, Scientific American added, could provide a better understanding in how genetics factor into mental health and mood disorders.
“Our study’s uniqueness,” lead author Fumiko Hoeft, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, told Scientific American, “in that we’re the first one to get the whole family and scan both parents and offspring to look at how similar their brain networks are. We can tell, even though the genetics are more complicated than we originally thought, who we got our eye color from. And we joke about inheriting stubbornness or organization—but we’ve never actually seen that in human brain networks before. [This research] was a proof of impact, of using a new design that has significant potential.”
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Hoeft added that the study’s findings also prove how much nature vs. nurtures into a daughter’s upbringing.
What’s relevant is that it shows the profound influence of prenatal impact on offspring, which we often forget,” Hoeft explained. “Prenatal input is considered in the most severe cases, like alcohol and smoking. But it happens in everyone. A mom being stressed has an impact on her child’s outcome.”
Of course, the findings should be taken with a grain of salt as the researchers only followed 35 families. However, the findings do further support the need to screen pregnant mothers for depression and other mood disorders so they can be treated promptly and appropriately.
“And these results are also interesting from a preventive point of view,” Geneviève Piché, a professor in the department of psychoeducation and psychology at the Université du Québec en Outaouais who also studied intergenerational transmission of depression, told Scientific American. “because in the future it may help us identify and target girls that will be at higher risk of disorders like depression, and then be able to possibly prevent the development of depressive symptoms.”
And remember: You get plenty of great things from your mother too, like her style, humor, and heartfelt advice for living your best life.