Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nurture impacts nature: Experiences leave genetic mark on brain, behavior

Date:
November 11, 2013
Source:
Society for Neuroscience
Summary:
New human and animal research released demonstrates how experiences impact genes that influence behavior and health. New insights have been made into how experience might produce long-term brain changes in behaviors like drug addiction and memory formation.

New human and animal research released today demonstrates how experiences impact genes that influence behavior and health. Today's studies, presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health, provide new insights into how experience might produce long-term brain changes in behaviors like drug addiction and memory formation.

The studies focus on an area of research called epigenetics, in which the environment and experiences can turn genes "on" or "off," while keeping underlying DNA intact. These changes affect normal brain processes, such as development or memory, and abnormal brain processes, such as depression, drug dependence, and other psychiatric disease -- and can pass down to subsequent generations.

Today's new findings show that:

  • Long-term heroin abusers show differences in small chemical modifications of their DNA and the histone proteins attached to it, compared to non-abusers. These differences could account for some of the changes in DNA/histone structures that develop during addiction, suggesting a potential biological difference driving long-term abuse versus overdose
  • Male rats exposed to cocaine may pass epigenetic changes on to their male offspring, thereby altering the next generation's response to the drug. Researchers found that male offspring in particular responded much less to the drug's influence
  • Drug addiction can remodel mouse DNA and chromosomal material in predictable ways, leaving "signatures," or signs of the remodeling, over time. A better understanding of these signatures could be used to diagnose drug addiction in humans

Other recent findings discussed show that:

  • Researchers have identified a potentially new genetic mechanism, called piRNA, underlying long-term memory. Molecules of piRNA were previously thought to be restricted to egg and sperm cells
  • Epigenetic DNA remodeling is important for forming memories. Blocking this process causes memory deficits and stunts brain cell structure, suggesting a mechanism for some types of intellectual disability

"DNA may shape who we are, but we also shape our own DNA," said press conference moderator Schahram Akbarian, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, an expert in epigenetics. "These findings show how experiences like learning or drug exposure change the way genes are expressed, and could be incredibly important in developing treatments for addiction and for understanding processes like memory."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Society for Neuroscience. "Nurture impacts nature: Experiences leave genetic mark on brain, behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111131439.htm>.
Society for Neuroscience. (2013, November 11). Nurture impacts nature: Experiences leave genetic mark on brain, behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111131439.htm
Society for Neuroscience. "Nurture impacts nature: Experiences leave genetic mark on brain, behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111131439.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. 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