“You are like a mirror reflection of your mother” and “Considering how handsome your father is, I can see where you got your looks from,” we more often than not come across these phrases. While its a known fact that genetics play a role in this connection, a recent study has shown that heredity also has a say in this, and it’s quite a significant one.

A new study has shown that the depressive symptoms and various other characteristic traits found in a woman is most likely passed on to from her mother.


A group of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco has discovered that the  corticolimbic system of the brain, which helps in regulating our emotions and is related to the revelation of depressive symptoms in a person – is most likely to be passed on to a daughter from the mother rather than mother to the son or father to the offspring.

The study was conducted on 35 ‘healthy’ families by lead author Fumiko Hoeft, who is also the associate professor at the University of California, and her team. They gathered MRI brain scans of all the members in each family where none of them had a history of depression or had been diagnosed with it, and analyzed their voxels (small units of volume) in the corticolimbic system.


They found a prominent connection between the gray matter volume in the corticolimbic system of a mother-daughter duo than any other parent-offspring pairing.

Hoeft said that the study showed that genetics are more complicated than expected. She added : “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.”


However, Hoeft has stressed although the study does throw light on intergenerational transmission patterns, in no way does it strike off other responsible factors for depression like prenatal, postnatal or genetic, or some rare combinations of the three.

Now, Hoeft and her team intends to utilize this new design to analyze the MRI scans of parents and their offspring among families that had used various forms of in-vitro fertilization. She also plans to use it on other mentally disordered people like those having autism to spot the connection between parent-child pairing in that.


What remains a mystery in this is how ‘nurture’ plays a role in this connection and how much it is dominant over heredity and/or genetics.