Brain & Behavior

We have studied the human brain for millennia, dating all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, yet we still understand little about how our most vital organ functions or how the cellular networks that operate our brain produce complex behaviors and memory storage. We know our brains take input from both genetic predispositions as well as from environmental cues—like upbringing and our unique experiences. We also know that our brains are highly flexible and responsive to our environments. Neither tells the complete story and scientists remained stumped as to how our brains ‘put it all together.’ In recent years some neurologists have proposed epigenetic modifications like methylation and histone modifications as the process that hard writes our experiences into our neurons. A major study revealed that rats who were licked more as pups were less anxious and dealt with stress better as adults—an activity that researchers linked to epigenetic modifications on a gene involved with stress hormones. Does this study implicate epigenetics as the bridge between nature and nurture in determining our behavior? Or is it are our genes and other factors that are in control? Is it epigenetics that underlies how we maintain this plasticity?

Understanding Epigenetics:
Brain & Behavior
Check out these stories for more context on epigenetics and agriculture
Epigenetics Has Become Dangerously Fashionable
J.C. Barnes, Brian Boutwell | Nautilus
Research
Social and physical environments early in development predict DNA methylation of inflammatory genes in young adulthood
July 06, 2017 | Thomas W. McDade | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vitamin C, aging and Alzheimer’s disease
June 29, 2017 | Fiammetta Monacelli | Nutrients
Application of CRISPR/Cas9 to the study of brain development and neuropsychiatric disease
June 15, 2017 | Suzanne Powell | Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Propagation of Polycomb-repressed chromatin requires sequence-specific recruitment to DNA
June 08, 2017 | Friederike Laprell, Katja Finkl, Jürg Müller | Science
Epigenetics, nutrition and mental health. Is there a relationship?
June 07, 2017 | Aaron Stevens, Julia Rucklidge, Martin Kennedy | Nutritional Neuroscience
Associating cellular epigenetic models with human phenotypes
June 06, 2017 | Tuuli Lappalainen, John M. Greally | Nature
Mutations in epigenetic regulation genes are a major cause of overgrowth with intellectual disability
May 11, 2017 | Katrina Tatton-Brown | American Journal of Human Genetics