Depression can easily pass down from a mother to her daughter

Hands of a mother and her daughter (Source:
Hands of a mother and her daughter (Source:

Main Point:

Emotions can easily move down from mother to her daughter, i.e. daughters have more chances of getting from their mother a brain structure that is involved in emotion, especially depression.

Published in:

Journal of Neuroscience

Study Further:

Researchers from University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) studied the brains of 35 families by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They found that the corticolimbic system, a structure of the brain circuitry, can pass down from mothers to their daughters, and these chances of moving down the structure in generations is more than the moving down of the structure from mothers to sons or from fathers to their daughters or sons.

The corticolimbic system consists of hippocampus, amygdala, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex, and is involved in the control of emotions and has an important role in mood disorders such as depression.

Researchers have reported that this research is not showing that mothers are responsible for the development of depression in their daughters.

“Many factors play a role in depression – genes that are not inherited from the mother, social environment and life experiences, to name only three. Mother-daughter transmission is just one piece of it.

“But this is the first study to bridge animal and human clinical research and show a possible matrilineal transmission of human corticolimbic circuitry, which has been implicated in depression, by scanning both parents and offspring,” said lead author Fumiko Hoeft, who is a UCSF associate professor of psychiatry.

“It opens the door to a whole new avenue of research looking at intergenerational transmission patterns in the human brain,” stated Hoeft.


UCSF – Brain Structure Governing Emotion Is Passed Down From Mother To Daughter, Says UCSF Study –

Yamagata, B., Murayama, K., Black, J., Hancock, R., Mimura, M., Yang, T., Reiss, A., & Hoeft, F. (2016). Female-Specific Intergenerational Transmission Patterns of the Human Corticolimbic Circuitry Journal of Neuroscience, 36 (4), 1254-1260 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4974-14.2016

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.

  • Andrea Cooper

    The research of a mother’s ability to transmit her emotions genetically is very interesting. While I believe much more research can be done in this area, the initial findings provide food for thought. If emotions are indeed passed down by the mother through the corticolimbic system, this would begin to explain where some women get their emotional tendencies from and perhaps open a window to begin to address those tendencies that have lead to emotional difficulties and/or mood disorders. It would be interesting to see where this research leads as related to the already familiar effects of the environment, life experiences, and other genetic influences.

  • tyler atherton

    I find this post very interesting just because of the fact, it talks about depression and how they studied to try to find out if it can be passed down from mother to daughter! It’s crazy to me the amount of progress the medical field has been making in their research with things having to do with the brain and different genetics and traits! But it does state that many factors can lead to depression, so basically it’s saying that even though they had thought that it could be passed down, that it’s not true. Many other factors can take place for depression to occur. But it all relates back to how different things and events can help shape the brain and help explain the reason why things happen or why people do things.

  • Oppa

    Main Point:Emotions can easily move down from mother to her daughter, i.e. daughters have more chances of getting from their mother a brain structure that is involved in emotion, especially depression.

    I find this post very amusing due to the fact that researchers from University of California, San Francisco studied the brains of 35 families. Based on my little research here and there, the U.S. population is more than 300,000,000 people. I find this post is amusing because researchers at University of California based on the studies of 35 families to come up with this conclusion. Children who have grown with depressions usually have experiences with family issues. Depression comes from your experiences and background. I personality believe that depression is not hereditary based on my experiences. People may at times pick up personalities and traits from their parents/mom if most.

  • sarah

    I found this post to be quite interesting. My mom has depression and iv’e always been afraid that It could have been passed down to me. This week in my psychology class we learned about how we don’t really have free will per say, and that it’s actually our brains controlling us from past experiences that shaped how our brains developed. Everyone’s brains develop completely different from experiences so this made me realize that I couldn’t actually get it from her, it’s not something that is genetically passed down to me or anything. Reading this article helped confirm my conclusion. In this study it stated that “this research is not showing that mothers are responsible for development of depression in their daughters.” But in fact many factors contribute to having depression. So it is related to experiences that have shaped our brains and how they develop.