Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Epigenetics and the Brain: Woo-free Coolness

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerJune 17, 2010 6:39 PM
switchboard.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

In my latest column for Discover, I take a look at epigenetics and the brain. Along with the genetic circuitry in the DNA of our brain cells, we also have an additional layer of molecules that can switch genes on and off. A lot of this so-called epigenome gets locked into place when our brains are first developing, but it still remains malleable throughout our lives. Our environment can rework our epigenome, and some studies suggest that this reworking may produce long-term changes in personality. Even mental conditions like depression may be partly epigenetic. And if we can figure out how conditions like depression alter the epigenome, we may be able to re-alter it to counter those disorders. For some reason, epigenetics is getting burdened with a lot of sensationalist quasi-mysticism these days. Epigenetics does not overturn everything we ever knew about everything. But it's possible for something to be woo-free and cool at the same time, as I hope my column makes clear. Check it out. [Image: U.S. Army Center of Military History]

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In