If you have trouble remembering which day you went to the beach last week or whether you mailed your bills on Friday or Saturday, you may have your genes to thank.
A variation in a protein that influences the growth and maintenance of neurons has been linked to an impaired ability to remember one's experiences. The variation affects the hippocampus, a region of the brain critical to memory. More than one third of people inherit one copy of the variation from a parent.
The degree to which memory is affected depends on whether one inherits a copy of the variation from one or both parents, says Daniel Weinberger, M.D., lead researcher in the study published in the journal Cell. If both parents pass on a copy of the variation, their child's memory will be worse than that of a child who inherited one or no copies.