Genetically Linked Memories
I'm not talking about toothpaste here but something critical to the understanding of what underlies the Kahana Chronicles. So it's time to put on my medical researcher hat. I talk about GLEEM or Genetically Linked Enzyme Enhanced Memory in my books quite alot but for those of you unfamiliar with it, I thought I should provide you with a little background before you start thinking or believing it's something out of the twilight zone.
Back in 1988 at Berkley in California there was fairly extensive research into what type of memories could be passed on. We're all familiar with instinctive memories which a newborn has inherited for survival but what about more complex memories? Can these be passed on too?
The answer from these experiments was a resounding yes. Without boring you with too many details, the basic research went as follows. Rats were trained to a maze. Once they had learned it to the point of practically being instinctive, an extract of proteinaceous material was taken from the trained rats and injected into the brains of rats that had never seen the maze before. You guessed it! They could immediately run the maze without error. A rudimentary experiment but one which underscored GLEEM completely.
In work I performed a few years later on my thesis examining origins of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (you know this as Mad Cow) I injected abnormal proteins into the spinal cords of mice and was able to produce the swiss cheese effect of this disease. How did it do it? The tissue building mechanisms of the body were fooled into thinking that the protein I injected was normal protein and began trying to reproduce it. But it couldn't and before long it started laying down a quantity of this abnormal protein which was absolutely useless for making neuro tissue. So where it couldn't make the proper tissue it left a hole.
All very interesting you say, but what's this got to do with GLEEM. Think of it this way. Our bodies want to produce proteins. In fact we want to do it so much that we constantly search for templates upon which we can start production. That is the basis of how are bodies work. We assemble amino acids into proteins. Quite a lot of it. DNA is the assembling of these amino acids as well and as for those of you that are CSI fans, we produce so much of it that we leave it behind everywhere. All over the crime scenes if you believe what you see on TV.
This takes us back to where this blog began. Memories are proteins. Nothing more than a chain of amino acids put together in such a way that they in essence become no different than a VCR tape which our brains see images and sounds and because they're past events, we label them memories. And just like those movies that are our favourites, we watch them over and over again, sometimes so much that we wear out the tape and therefore have to make backup copies. If a specific memory is important enough, tragic enough, traumatic enough, etc., then much in the same way our brain makes copies as well. The more copies, the more likely our body mechanisms will consider it essential, like an instinct or innate behaviour and will ultimately incorporate it into our genetic coding. In turn, in theory, we will pass this paticuar memory on to our children and they in turn will have the ability to experience an event that had nothing to do with them. And just like an instinct, this memory will be passed on for an eternity to all the descendants of that person.
So there you have it. As you read Blood Royale, Caiaphas Letters, or Shadows of Trinity you can now appreciate how GLEEM was invaluable to their writing.
Until next time, GLEEM on!!
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