Is "Junk" DNA Used to Provide Genetic Memory

Russell Mast MASTRD at ctrvax.Vanderbilt.edu
Mon Apr 25 00:27:15 EST 1994


In article <2p70mq$5e0 at portal.gmu.edu>, dcameron at mason1.gmu.edu (Don B
Cameron) wrote:

> I think junk DNA is where genetic memory is stored. 

If it's storing memories, or doing anything else, it's not "junk".  It is
possible that a lot of DNA that is currently identified as "junk" is
actually not junk.

As for genetic memories, well, the biggest problem is translating this DNA
into patterned neural activity.  For instance, in the case of dogs spinning
in circles - for all dogs to access these memories, they would all have to
store the memory patterns for "circle" in the same way, and that has to be
a way which can be accessed by this DNA.  (Have to be specially activated
by a unique protein or something.) 

For any sort of "memory" that's going to be like a "real memory" (ie
specifically petterned neural activity that can be used and associated with
other remembered patterns) as opposed to some sort of "tendency" like a
fear response to novel animate stimuli, you would need a heck of a lot of
specialization.  While evolution can do some surprisingly specific things
that make human engineers pale in comparison, virtually all of those things
have great adaptive value.  

Genetic memories seem like something that would have to be very costly and
complex to evolve, and I just don't see what the adaptive value of them
would be.  Unless I have my head way up my sphincter about what memories in
general are, they're way too hefty to show up as an epiphenomenon or
coincidence.

-steamboatcaptainman
"Frankly, why anyone would want to play against a random person in another
state when they can more easily play against a computer isn't clear to us."
 -Popular Science, May 1994, p. 100.



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