Behavioral epigenetics

Study of epigenetics' influencing behavior / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Behavioral epigenetics is the field of study examining the role of epigenetics in shaping animal (including human) behavior.[1] It seeks to explain how nurture shapes nature,[2] where nature refers to biological heredity[3] and nurture refers to virtually everything that occurs during the life-span (e.g., social-experience, diet and nutrition, and exposure to toxins).[4] Behavioral epigenetics attempts to provide a framework for understanding how the expression of genes is influenced by experiences and the environment[5] to produce individual differences in behaviour,[6] cognition,[2] personality,[7] and mental health.[8][9]

Epigenetic gene regulation involves changes other than to the sequence of DNA and includes changes to histones (proteins around which DNA is wrapped) and DNA methylation.[10][4][11] These epigenetic changes can influence the growth of neurons in the developing brain[12] as well as modify the activity of neurons in the adult brain.[13][14] Together, these epigenetic changes in neuron structure and function can have a marked influence on an organism's behavior.[1]