Intergenerational effect of parental spatial training on offspring learning: Evidence for sex differences in memory function

Javad Riyahi, Behrouz Abdoli, Abbas Haghparast, Laura Petrosini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On the basis of recent works demonstrating that environmental factors experienced by parents can affect their offspring, the present study was aimed at investigating whether the learning of a spatial memory task by parents before fertilization can facilitate the same learning in their offspring, and the role each parent can play in this transition. In the present study animals spatially trained (or not) in the Morris water maze were mated, and their 4 week-old male and female pups underwent spatial assessment in the same spatial task. Also, ERK1/2, BDNF, SYT1 and H3K14ac levels in the hippocampus of offspring were analyzed. We found that parental spatial training before fertilization facilitated the spatial learning and memory in their offspring. Interestingly, it was found that this transmission happened from fathers to their male offspring, and from mothers to their female offspring. Moreover, father's spatial training increased expression of BDNF and phosphorylated ERK1/2 specifically in the male offspring. We observed that father's spatial training increased acetylated H3K14 in male offspring's hippocampus, suggesting that histone acetylation may upregulate the expression of BDNF and phosphorylated ERK1/2 in the male offspring of father trained and thus contribute to the enhancement of spatial learning and memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-323
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Effect
  • ERK1/2
  • H3K14
  • Intergenerational
  • Memory
  • Offspring
  • Parental spatial training
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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