“Nature and Nurture: Human Brains Evolved to be More Responsive to Environmental Influences”

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"We found that the anatomy of the chimpanzee brain is more strongly controlled by genes than that of human brains, suggesting that the human brain is extensively shaped by its environment no matter its genetics," said Aida Gómez-Robles, postdoctoral scientist at the GW Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology and lead author on the paper. "So while genetics determined human and chimpanzee brain size, it isn't as much of a factor for human cerebral organization as it is for chimpanzees."

Large Rigorous Study Debunks Popular Gene-Environment Theory of Depression

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A large and rigorous meta-analysis fails to find support for the gene-environment interaction theory of depression.

Intergenerational Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

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The daughters of children evacuated from Finland during World War II show an increased number of psychiatric hospitalizations.

Researcher Urges Caution When Applying Genetics to Psychiatry

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In a review editorial for the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, neurobiology researcher Steven Dubovsky from the University at Buffalo argues against the adoption of...

Are DNA Changes the Link Between Poverty and Mental Illness?

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Researchers at Duke University who studied 183 adolescents for three years found that increased depression associated with poverty may be mediated by epigenetic changes in DNA. The...

“The Miseducation of Frank Waln”

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Studies of modern Native Americans have shown that “historical trauma,” the name that social workers give to the perception of historical loss passed down through...

Researchers Investigate Antidepressant-Induced Suicidal Ideation

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An increase in suicidal thoughts is a known and serious side-effect for various types of antidepressants. Recent studies suggest that there may be some...

The Genetics of Depression: “Look to the Environment”

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A comprehensive review of research on the genetics of depression up to 2012, published online today by Psychological Bulletin, finds "a continued lack of...

“Can You Think Yourself into a Different Person?”

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Will Storr, for Mosaic Science, wades into the world of neuroplasticity and explores to what extent our brains are capable of changing through adulthood. He asks if the tendency to overemphasize the findings of epigenetics and neuroplasticity isn’t tied to our cultural belief that individuals are totally free to create themselves and pursue the American dream.

How to Override Your Own Personality

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From Science of Us: We are often told to "just be ourselves" as if the self is a fixed, unchanging concept. However our personalities change...

Disease Theory of ‘Mental Illness’ Tied To Pessimism About Recovery

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Researchers recently completed a first of its kind, large-scale international survey of attitudes about mental health and they were surprised by the results. According to their analysis published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, people in developed countries, like the United States, are more likely to assume that ‘mental illnesses’ are similar to physical illnesses and biological or genetic in origin, but they are also much less likely to think that individuals can overcome these challenges and recover

Researchers Question Link Between Genetics and Depression

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A new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, found no link between genetics and the occurrence of depressive symptoms.

Neurosexism: Study Questions Validity of Gender-based Neuroscientific Results

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Neuroscientific results that class humans into two categories, “male” and “female,” tend to reify gender stereotypes by giving them the appearance of objective scientific truth.

“Bewitching Science” Revisited: Tales of Reunited Twins and the Genetics of Behavior

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In this article I will attempt to debunk one of the great “scientific” smoke and mirrors shows of the past half century—the claim that stories of reunited separated MZ (monozygotic, identical) twin pairs indicate that heredity plays a major role in causing human behavioral differences. These stories, which are often used to sell the false ideology of genetic determinism, have entered the public imagination in a way that academic research results never could. Here I will show that these stories provide no evidence whatsoever that (as yet undiscovered) “genes for behavior” influence human behavioral development.

Is The Microbiome our Puppeteer?

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“My message today is that your state of gut will affect your state of mind. To have a healthy brain, we may need a...

How We Can Inherit Trauma and Resilience

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Philip Perry, writing for Big Think, covers studies in epigenetics revealing how trauma can be passed on through generations. Article →

“What Stress Does to Your Brain”

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“Stress damages the integrity of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that deals with memory and emotions,” Thor Benson writes for Salon. “Hormones like Cortisol and other biological reactions created by stress essentially disrupt the balance of how much white and grey matter the brain is creating, which affects how the brain operates.”

“Behaviour and Biology: The Accidental Epigeneticist”

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Nature tells of Richard Tremblay, who explores the effects of trauma and aggression on the life course — and beyond, through the influence of epigenetics. Article →
humanity at the dawn of posthumanism

Reclaiming Humanity at the Dawn of Posthumanism: Conversation with Darcia Narvaez

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The postmodern zeitgeist of the past few decades encourages us to believe that we can endlessly reinvent ourselves untethered to our human biology. But the explosion of research on the microbiome reminds us that we are deeply embedded in an ecosystem that lives within us and around us, without which we cannot survive.

From Phrenology to Brain Scans: How Shaky Neuroscience has Influenced Courts

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In “When Phrenology Was Used in Court,” Geoffrey S. Holtzman writes for Slate about the spurious use of brain science in legal cases. In the 1800’s the “science of phrenology” promised to reveal criminal psychological traits by measuring the skull and today defense teams still employ neurogenetic explanations for their client’s violent behavior.

Philosophers Challenge Psychiatry and its Search for Mechanisms of Disorder

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Attempting to locate the mechanisms of psychiatric disorder is a step in the wrong direction and fails to challenge potentially unjust social practices.

“The Life and Times of Strider Wolf”

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In the Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer tells the story of a young boy brutally abused by his parents then given to his grandparents who struggled with extreme poverty and homelessness. “Researchers now understood that trauma could alter the chemistry of developing brains and disrupt the systems that help a person handle stress, propelling a perpetual state of high alert. The consequences could be lifelong. As an adult, he’d be more likely to suffer anxiety and depression and heart disease and stroke. His ability to hold a job, manage money, and make good decisions could be compromised. And there was evidence, controversial but mounting, that he could pass on these traits to his children.”

Effects of Stress Can Cross Generations

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Researchers from the University of Cambridge have found, for the first time, that genes affected by stress during life can be passed to the...

Researchers Develop New Model for Understanding Depression

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Acknowledging that current depression treatments are failing many people, researchers from Michigan State and MIT have developed a new model for understanding how multiple psychological, biological, social and environmental factors contribute to depression.

Large Study Finds Epigenetic Changes Associated with Trauma Explained by Smoking

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A new study suggests that epigenetic changes that have been associated with trauma may actually be due to environmental toxins.