ScienceDaily reports that a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows significant associations between the amount of gray matter in the limbic systems of mothers and daughters. These associations are greater than the similarities between the emotional centers of mothers and sons or fathers and their children.
The findings are significant in determining how depression is passed down, which is structurally most attributable to the limbic system. The study used MRI scans and found the size of a baby daughter's hippocampus, amygdala, and specific cortices to be predicted by the size of these structures in her mother. The size of these structures may then play a role in predispositions toward depression, or emotional processing more generally, later in life.
As author Fumiko Hoeft points out, the study's implications are limited so long as the associations with genetics and pre- and postnatal influence are not isolated. A new study may soon help to clarify the role of genetics versus time spent in the womb or with the mother after birth.