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“This is some of the first research demonstrating that low socioeconomic status can lead to changes in the way genes are expressed,” said Swartz. “And it maps this out through brain development to the future experience of depression symptoms.”
Identifying specific environmental mechanisms contributing to the effects of SES on methylation observed here will help narrow targets for possible intervention. Moreover, preventive interventions such as training in mindfulness-based techniques may be effective in lowering threat-related amygdala reactivity in adolescents identified as high-risk ...
Yet i find myself behaving irrationally in specific ways that just baffle me. When I read these studies (there are quire a few, as you are aware) it just makes sense of things that I struggle to make sense out of otherwise.
The same DNA creates countless variants of itself even. THe complexity of it all is overwhelming.
Many people bristle at these kinds of reports, both on a personal level and (for neurologists, psychologists and social scientists), on a professional level, as crude genetic determinism does not square with the very real lifestyle and societal events that have an impact on so many people. Without a doubt, we are far more than our genes, and geneticists (myself included) could do a lot better in communicating the somewhat fiendish complexity of our chosen field.
originally posted by: bigfatfurrytexan
Why Poverty Is Like A Disease
In human children, epigenetic changes in stress receptor gene expression that lead to heightened stress responses and mood disorders have been measured in response to childhood abuse.4 And last year, researchers at Duke University found that “lower socioeconomic status during adolescence is associated with an increase in methylation of the proximal promoter of the serotonin transporter gene,” which primes the amygdala—the brain’s center for emotion and fear—for “threat-related amygdala reactivity.”5 While there may be some advantages to being primed to experience high levels of stress (learning under stress, for example, may be accelerated6), the basic message of these studies is consistent: Chronic stress and uncertainty during childhood makes stress more difficult to deal with as an adult.
From one perspective, epigenetics offers a compelling narrative of life experiences feeding back directly onto the basic programming that makes us who we are. But the field also has some foundational controversies. In June of last year, a team of researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bristol University, and the European Bioinformatics Institute published a paper arguing that the field is plagued with misinterpreted results. The sources of misinterpretation included confusing cause and effect (diseases can produce epigenetic markers as well as the other way around); spurious and misinterpreted statistics; confounding variables which cause apparent correlations; and a large variability among the epigenomes of individual cells, which is usually not controlled for in experiments.
I grew up poor....but not so poor i didn't know how we would eat. I wasn't a choosy kid, and would eat just about any food given to me (lucky for my mom, i guess). But we were poor, with normal social things my friends did not being a part of my experience. My wife and I talk about our childhoods, and she is shocked that my first vacation happened as an adult. She thought she grew up poor.
But in the grand scope, our poverty was mild and minor. We had school, we ate daily, and our homes passed building codes.
Many of you know my own experiences in this regard, at least in a broad sense. I've always believed in meritocracy. Over the past 2 years the things I read in science journals is leading me away, towards the notion that poverty creates biological changes that make it almost impossible for humans to overcome poverty. The roles of cause and effect in the discussion of poverty and ability are being reversed.
There is a pretty big p-hacking dust up in the world of social science, so I will wait for more info before continuing to refine my position. But if the research holds up, it seems that meritocracy is dead, and liberal social policies are the only way to save humanity from its own self imposed lowest denominator.
Studies of mice and fruit flies have shown that epigenetic traits similar to the ones Meaney proposed can be passed down, and last for dozens of generations. The effects of things like diet and prenatal parental stress have been observed to be inherited, not just through histone modifications, but also through DNA methylation and non-coding RNAs.7 In one 2014 study, the offspring of a mouse trained to fear a particular smell were observed to also fear that smell, even with no previous exposure to it. The effect lasted for two generations.8 In humans, inheritable effects of stress have been observed through at least three generations from parents who survived mass starvation (Dutch Hunger Winter),9 a fluctuating food supply (the Överkalix cohort)10 and the Holocaust. The effects of early paternal smoking and paternal betel quid chewing have been observed to be transmitted to children in a sex-specific manner, supporting biological epigenetic transmission in humans.11 According to a 2014 survey of the field, “the few human observational studies to date suggest (male line) transgenerational effects exist that cannot easily be attributed to cultural and/or genetic inheritance.”
NO. Every single person does NOT have the ability and capacity to change their circumstances.