Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

We are what we experience

Date:
November 28, 2011
Source:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Summary:
Our life experiences -- the ups and downs, and everything in between -- shape us, stay with us and influence our emotional set point as adults, according to a new study.

Our life experiences -- the ups and downs, and everything in between -- shape us, stay with us and influence our emotional set point as adults, according to a new study led by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers. The study suggests that, in addition to our genes, our life experiences are important influences on our levels of anxiety and depression.

"In this time of emphasis on genes for this and that trait, it is important to remember that our environmental experiences also make important contributions to who we are as people," said principal investigator Kenneth Kendler, M.D., director of the VCU Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics.

"When I was growing up, in talking about the importance of a good diet, we used to say 'You are what you eat.' What this study shows is that to a substantial degree, 'you are what you have experienced.' That is, your life history stays with you in impacting on your background book, for good or for ill," he said.

Kendler, professor of psychiatry, and human and molecular genetics in the VCU School of Medicine, and an international team of researchers from VCU and other universities, analyzed nine data sets of more than 12,000 identical twins with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety through the lifespan.

By studying identical twins, researchers have a pair of individuals who are born with identical genetic compositions and a shared family environment. Their environments may begin to change as they begin to make divergent decisions as they get older that come with lifestyle, diet or friends.

Participants completed reports relating to their own symptoms of anxiety and depression in a five-to-six-year period. The participants varied in age and were from American and European population-based registries.

According to Kendler, statistical models, developed by his colleague Charles Gardner, Ph.D., a research associate in the VCU Department of Psychiatry, were used to observe how components of individual variation changed over time. The team observed that as the twins moved from childhood into late adult life, they increasingly diverged in their predicted levels of symptoms, but after that point, stopped further diverging. Further, they noted that environmental experiences contribute substantially to stable and predictable inter-individual differences in levels of anxiety and depression by mid-life in adults.

The study first appeared online Sept. 23, and in the October issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Read the journal's news release here.

Kendler collaborated with VCU researchers Lindon Eaves, Ph.D., Erik Loken, Ph.D., Judy Silberg, Ph.D., and Charles Gardner, Ph.D.; Nancy Pedersen, Ph.D., and Paul Lichtenstein, Ph.D., with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden; Christel M. Middeldorp and Dorret Boomsma, with VU University, Amsterdam; and Chandra Reynolds, with the University of California, Riverside.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Commonwealth University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. S. Kendler, L. J. Eaves, E. K. Loken, N. L. Pedersen, C. M. Middeldorp, C. Reynolds, D. Boomsma, P. Lichtenstein, J. Silberg, C. O. Gardner. The Impact of Environmental Experiences on Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression Across the Life Span. Psychological Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611417255

Cite This Page:

Virginia Commonwealth University. "We are what we experience." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005170725.htm>.
Virginia Commonwealth University. (2011, November 28). We are what we experience. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005170725.htm
Virginia Commonwealth University. "We are what we experience." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005170725.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins