The Legacy of Trauma: Can Experiences Leave A Biological Imprint?

Short Wave
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Okay so we are talking about epa genetic. Stay where do we start areola. Well we gotta go back to the basics genetics minus the abbey part so most of the time when we think of genetic changes. We think about dna mutations be squeezed changes in the actual sequence of dna. Yeah and it turns out. This isn't the whole story. Our dna is covered in small molecules. That tell her body had a use the dna. Brian dies gave me a great metaphor to describe all this. He teaches at the university of southern california school of medicine. So within you. And i is a book of life which is our dna and that dna needs to be read. And if our dna is a book of life than those small molecules i was talking about our punctuation marks and depending on what punctuation is where the book is going to be read very differently. Meaning those markers can amplify or down certain parts of our dna so when we talk about epigenetics were talking about how these molecules around our dna affect our dna is read exactly and we can see this really clearly in different parts of our body. How well every cell in our body has the same blueprint the same dna. But we know that not every cell in our body is the same we don't have. We don't have is growing in our fingertips. Speak for yourself over there so look even though ourselves all have the same dna. The dna is being used differently in different cells. And i'm guessing epigenetics has something to do. Yes our ib genetic markers vary in different parts of our body in the i for example. There's certain markers that say you become an i cell and suppress everything will make you a tooth. And here's the thing. Our environment and behaviors change our genetics. All the time not enough to make peace start growing out of your eyes. I promise but still changing. Yeah and i. I remember learning about this discovery in grad school and it being revolutionary like oh our environment can affect our genetics in real time without actually changing the sequence of our dna at all. Yeah and of course. It's more complicated than that. But this field is a really big deal. It's shown us that different environmental factors like diet and pollution can change our epi genetic markers and now people are trying to figure out if trauma and stress also cause genetic changes and if they do can. These changes be passed down like the dutch hunger study. We talked about earlier right. Yeah among others now look. We can't assume too much from these human studies. They have small sample. Sizes are tons of confounding variables. Right right i mean. Isn't it possible that these descendants are more likely to have these diseases due to social factors. Yes i asked bianca the same question she said. I sure that's a problem with human studies. it's really hard to separate the learned experience from the biological one. It is hard to say that a parent who has starred will now then treat food in the same way apparent who is not starved. And what we're interested in looking at is if we remove the parent from the situation and we just have the sperm cells and the exiles doll the work. Do we still see these changes and one way to start to figure that out is doing animal studies. Right so brian. The scientists who gave us that cool metaphor earlier did some of the first groundbreaking research on this. He basically introduced male mice to a particular smell. And when we exposed the meister smell we administer a very mild foot. Shaw that we i are selves at. We know it's not painful but mildly annoying to the mouse and as a consequence that particular smell becomes stressful to the parental generation.

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