Abstract This paper presents the theory of French neurophysiologist Michel Jouvet that REM dreaming sleep acts as a genetic programming mechanism for the brain in utero. In addition the French neurobiologist Jean-Didier Vincent in his book Biology of Passions provides a great deal of research material concerning the development of the fetus as a desiring subject. This material is presented in support of the general theory of desire principally developed by French psychoanalysts Françoise Dolto and Jacques Lacan. It is shown that at the time of birth the fetus has already developed a desiring attachment to the conditions in the womb and that the act of being born does represent a rupture to its established desiring patterns thus reinforcing and explaining all the theory that has emerged concerning the trauma of birth.
Scientists have come to doubt their long-held views that the brain is a network of neurons that communicate by chemoelectrical processes via axons. This is the standard view that the brain is alive with electrical current but it is caused purely as a result of chemical potential differences – positive (+) sodium ions passing through membranes to cause the interior of the neuron to become positively charged or positive (+) potassium ions flooding out of the neuron to cause the exterior to become positively charged. It all looks very chemical to them, and so they are quite content in thinking that this is all that is happening. The action potential once triggered then propagates down the axon like some sort of a snowball effect and then when it gets to the end of the axon it will be passed on to another neuron via a synapse, which again is described in great detail as a chemical transmission of the action potential.
Trouble is none of this is explaining what is happening with the myelin sheath. This is the coating of fatty material on the outside of the axon that acts as an insulator for the axons and is also said to be conducive to speeding up the flow of electricity. In an article in New Scientist (21 Feb 2015) “Meet your other brain” we are told that scientists are now shocked, ‘gobsmacked’ was the actual word used, to find that this myelin sheath is actually increasing or decreasing in real time. They had always assumed that the myelin sheath on the axons forms during development and then remains static as an insulator for the axons, and then as a result of aging processes begins to dwindle, thus bringing on diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Researches at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, believe they have found evidence that memories might be passed down through generations in our DNA. In an article published in Nature entitled Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations they examine the inheritance of parental traumatic exposure, that is to say the progeny or offspring remember the trauma or stressful experience that their parents were exposed to. It seems that researchers in the field come across evidence of this quite often, but it is poorly understood how this can possibly occur. Somehow the memory of the traumatic experience must be passed on in the genes.
In their paper the researchers describe how they condition the parent mice to fear a certain odor, in this case the smell of cherry blossom, and not only did the next two generations of their progeny specifically fear this same odor, but the researchers state that they observed “an enhanced neuroanatomical representation” of the specific gene for the olfactory receptor. In other words this specific fear had somehow become encoded in the DNA that went on into the progeny.
This research suggests that experiences are transferred from the brain into the genome, and these researchers are now continuing their studies to try to understand how information about life experiences could possibly come to be stored in the DNA. Specifically how can it be that our memories are stored in the genetic material that becomes passed on to subsequent generations. I feel I can contribute to this debate in two ways. Firstly it is now known that human thought can actually change the genes, and secondly the very architecture of the DNA packaged in the chromosomes strongly suggests that the DNA is actually made up of millions and millions of memristors, which is actually a new form of memory storage actually being developed in the computer industry. I shall deal with these two aspects in turn.