We’ve been working on a compilation ebook to help explain how you can alter your genetic code and change your lineage forever. Here’s on introduction to the topic:
Scientists have known for a long time that traumatic life experiences, particularly those that occur during childhood, influence the development of psychiatric disorders. They also know that genes, such as those responsible for the stress response, play a major role in the manifestation of these disorders. What they did not understand were the biological mechanisms through which life experiences change the expression of these genes. Michael Meaney discovered some of these mechanisms a few years ago in studies on rats. More recently, Michael Meaney, Moshe Szyf and Gustavo Turecki proved for the first time that these mechanisms are also at work in human beings. Using the brains of people who had committed suicide, their study showed that mistreatment experienced during childhood causes lasting changes in stress-response genes.
Human epidemiological studies and studies of animal models provide many examples by which early life experiences influence health in a long-term manner, a concept known as ‘biological embedding’. Such experiences can have profound impacts during periods of high plasticity in prenatal and early postnatal life. In contrast to the relative stability of gene sequence, epigenetic mechanisms appear, at least to some extent, responsive to these environmental signals. For example, our recent work using high-throughput epigenetic techniques points to large-scale changes in gene pathways in addition to candidate genes involved in the response to psychosocial stress and neuroplasticity. We will discuss examples of nascent research into the influence of early life experience on mental health outcomes, discuss evidence of epigenetic mechanisms that may underlie these effects, and describe challenges for research in this area.
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