The motivation behind our proposal stems from an intriguing observation we have obtained while studying the mechanisms underlying “rule learning”, the ability to generalize complex rules based on previous experiences. We find that offspring of rats who have mastered complex rule learning are born superb learners. On a cellular level, we uncovered that neurons of superb learners are significantly more excitable and better relay information to neighboring neurons. These striking findings lead us to suggest that complex learning, aside of profoundly changing the animal’s brain, also induce significant changes to genomes of germ cells, which alter the offspring’s gene expression, endowing it with enhanced learning abilities. To decipher the underlying mechanism(s) of this phenomenon, we combine the unique and complementary expertise of three research groups. We will tackle these by parallel thrusts using behavioral, electrophysiological, genetic and epigenetic means, combined with in vivo imaging. Results obtained from our study are bound to change the way we address learning in general and, in particular, how parental experiences affect the capabilities of succeeding generations. Importantly, it should present new opportunities for enhancing and bettering the lives of our children.
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