Monday, August 8, 2016

Epigenetics – The ghost in your genes, and Nuroplasticity

It's time to invest more into our communities for greater growth and happier societies

Our genes are programmable and how we turn out to be can be greatly influenced by our environment, so people born in different cultures can have very different attitudes. Born in poverty in a society which has lots of drugs and gun crime and this is an environment will produce far more criminals, drug addicts, and alcoholics. The research of epigenetics shows that harsh conservatives policies are more than likely to cause harm with their austerity and by reducing benefits which will make these problems worse. And these damaged people are also more likely to use psychiatric medications to help anesthetize their personal pain, sadness, and despair.

So, rather than reduce benefits to the poor we should be increasing them. We already know that if poor people have more money to spend that this is good for the economy, but it is also good for producing a more happier and healthier society too in the long run. Although some parents may not be able to change (manly because they don’t want to)  when their offspring are brought up in less poverty they are less likely to to grow into well adjusted people, although sometimes this may take a few generations. Then the children from underclass families may grow up and go on to start their own business and so contribute to society designing products and service that people want, and others may go to universities and some may even get PhD’s. This is the power of not only epigenetics, but also neuroplasticity, where the brain changes itself in response to the environment and upbringing. 

At many universities scientists did an experiment by interbreeding neurotic rats to get neurotic pups and calm rats to get calm pups. To most people it would appear to be that neurotic genes had been passed on, but what if the genes were normal and that it was the program that had been passed on instead? Well, this is what the scientist discovered when they took neurotic pups from neurotic female rats and placed them with calm female rats, and then took the calm pups and placed them with neurotic female rats. Eventually the neurotic pups grew into calm rats and the calm pups became neurotic. Why is this you may ask? Well, because in the wild rats that have learned to live in a very harsh environment and have become neurotic and jumpy- say where there are lots of cats -  will then go on to have pups that are born to be jumpy and scared too as these pups will have a much greater chance of survival than pups that are born to be chilled out and laid back. 

The plastic Mind, by Sharon Begely

For decades, the conventional wisdom of neuroscience held that the hardware of the brain is fixed - that we are stuck with what we were born with. But recent pioneering experiments in neuroplasticity reveal that the brain is capable not only of altering its structure but also of generating new neurons, even into old age. The brain can adapt, heal, renew itself after trauma and compensate for disability.

In this groundbreaking book, highly respected science writer Sharon Begley documents how this fundamental paradigm shift is transforming both our understanding of the human mind and our approach to deep-seated emotional, cognitive and behavioural problems.

These breakthroughs show that it is possible to reset our happiness meter, regain the use of limbs disabled by stroke, train the mind to break cycles of depression and OCD and reverse age-related changes in the brain.

Humans have a very long childhood which shows just how important epigenetics and neuroplasticity is in shaping who we finally come out. Humans can live in the coldest or hottest climates in the world, in the most hostile and the most benign, in the highest and the lowest regions of the planet, in high crime societies or low crime societies, in Sweden or the Bronx.: We learn how to adapt to these environments.  So, if we as a society we invest in our children, we will make greater gains later on. We will have less crime and more productive, happier people. Isn’t that what all Conservatives want, and yet many right wing conservatives do everything they can to hinder this?

The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community, By Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.  

Policymakers at last are coming to recognize the connection between the breakdown of American families and various social problems. The unfolding debate over welfare reform, for instance, has been shaped by the wide acceptance in recent years that children born into single-parent families are much more likely than children of intact families to fall into poverty and welfare dependence themselves in later years. These children, in fact, face a daunting array of problems.
While this link between illegitimacy and chronic welfare dependency now is better understood, policymakers also need to appreciate another strong and disturbing pattern evident in scholarly studies: the link between illegitimacy and violent crime and between the lack of parental attachment and violent crime. Without an understanding of the root causes of criminal behavior -- how criminals are formed -- Members of Congress and state legislators cannot understand why whole sectors of society, particularly in urban areas, are being torn apart by crime. And without that knowledge, sound policymaking is impossible.

Epigenetics: the Ghost In Our Genes

The BBC Horizon documentary The ghost in your genes, successfully explains a particularly complex field of science. Genetic inheritance has historically been thought of as involving the transmission of DNA from one generation to the next affected by occasional mutations in the DNA itself (00:04:37 – 00:05:50). “Up to now, inheritance is just the genes, the DNA sequence. I suspect that we’re going to be able to demonstrate that inheritance is more than that”, explains Professor Marcus Pembrey from the Institute of Child Health, UCL. A few scientists had hypothesised that the conventional genetic model and mode of inheritance was too simplistic to explain the complexity of human beings. The revelation that the human genome likely contains only about 30,000 genes (00:08:54 – 00:11:33), coupled with increasing experimental evidence, now leads scientists to believe that other factors allow genes to be switched on and off in response to environmental stimuli. The consequences of which may affect subsequent generations.

The scientists who believe your genes are shaped in part by your ancestors' life experiences.

Biology stands on the brink of a shift in the understanding of inheritance. The discovery of epigenetics – hidden influences upon the genes – could affect every aspect of our lives.

At the heart of this new field is a simple but contentious idea – that genes have a 'memory'. That the lives of your grandparents – the air they breathed, the food they ate, even the things they saw – can directly affect you, decades later, despite your never experiencing these things yourself. And that what you do in your lifetime could in turn affect your grandchildren.


Anonymous said...

The thesis that "The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime {are} The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community" in the US seems rather difficult to support, given that the apparent breakdown of marriage, family, and community in the US in recent decades has been accompanied by dramatic decreases in violent crime.

The Rombach Report said...

"But recent pioneering experiments in neuroplasticity reveal that the brain is capable not only of altering its structure but also of generating new neurons, even into old age. The brain can adapt, heal, renew itself after trauma and compensate for disability."

In cases of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) due to stroke, brain cancer, and catastrophic accidents, the brain does have to capability to rewire itself, grow new neurons to recover to one degree or another. I know this from personal experience with my daughter who was catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle pedestrian accident over a year and a half ago. She was horrifically injured and required a bilateral crainiectomy to relieve brain swelling. Several months later she underwent a reverse procedure, (crainioplasty), to implant prosthetic skull plates back into her head.

For over a year she was in a persistent vegetative state, with all the associated negative side effects. During the past year she has progressed to regain a level of minimal consciousness, and is able to track people around her via sight, sound and touch. She has a very long hard road ahead of her and a very uncertain future, but the progress she has made in the past year has defied the odds that the best and brightest neurologists and physiatrists at Mass General Hospital were giving her a year ago.

jrbarch said...

As a parent, my deepest empathy with your daughter, and you and your family Brian, and best wishes.