Posts Tagged ‘genetics’

Are You What Your Mother Ate?

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Randy Jirtle and Rob Waterland’s Agouti Mouse Study has been called one of the most important study’s of the 21st century, not only for its significance for our understanding of the relationship between our genetic Nature and environmental Nurture but, most importantly, for our understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms that change gene expression in both lab mice and, by extension, human beings.

The film combines extensive interview footage of Professor Randy Jirtle and original laboratory footage to both tell the story of the Agouti Mouse Study and consider its implications for our understanding of the relationship between our genetic and environmental influences.

The 14-minute film is divided into three discrete but related sections:

1. The Context of the Agouti Mouse Study outlines the development of an epigenetic approach to our understanding of disease.

2. The Experiment takes a closer look at the actual mechanics of the Agouti Study and how it demonstrated a causal pathway between a mother animal’s environment and the expression of her offspring’s genetic code (and, in the process, overturned a century’s scientific belief about how genetics worked).

3. The final section, Reactions and Implications, looks at both the impact of the study and its revolutionary implications for how we understand the relationship between our genes and our physical and social environments.

Although mainly of interest to psychology teachers and students, the film may also be useful to sociologists seeking a clearer understanding of the different ways the expression of our genetic inheritance can be modified by epigenetic environmental changes.

I would like to see this video disseminated to a large audience because it so clearly shows what our agouti mouse study accomplished. It truly ushered in the era of environmental epigenomics, which markedly changed the way we view the genesis of disease formation.”
Professor Randy Jirtle

Exploring the Nurture in Our Nature?

Friday, May 19th, 2017

The Nature-Nurture debate in both sociology and psychology at a-level has, historically, generally been framed in terms of an either / or approach to understanding the relationship between genes and social / environmental influences. In short, either our behaviour is fundamentally a product of our genetic inheritance (biological determinism) or it is a product of our cultural experiences (cultural determinism).

Recent developments in neuroscience – and, in particular, the ability to see, understand and interpret MRI scan data – have, however, cast doubt on the utility of seeing human behaviour in terms of this relatively simple biology-culture dichotomy.

More specifically, the work of researchers like James Fallon and Kent Kiehl in relation to psychopathy and Randy Jirtle in the field of epigenetics (“above genetics”) has suggested that even though very clear genetic differences exist between the brain structures of “psychopath” and “non-psychopath” the frequently-destructive behaviour of the former can’t simply be explained in terms of simple genetic predispositions: even in what seems one of the most clear-cut examples of genetic predispositions, cultural factors play a clear – and possibly crucial – role in the social development of psychopaths.


Beyond Genetics

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Association for the Teaching of Psychology review of our new film by Deb Gajic (Head of Psychology, The Polesworth School)

How epigenetics is changing our understanding of the Nature / Nurture debate

For those of you that attended Dr. Taylor’s workshop or Dr. Guy Sutton’s keynote lecture during the ATP Annual Conference at the University of Sussex, the topic of epigenetics will be very familiar to you. This 23 minute film summarises the main points and arguments in a very concise and accessible manner for your students. It will be invaluable when teaching the nature/nurture debate or biological psychology in general. We’ve long known that behaviour is a product of nature and nurture. Now epigenetics explains how this happens – the nurture in our nature. Being able to write about epigenetics will certainly give your student’s evaluation the edge.

With expert input from Dr. Nessa Carey, author of ‘The Epigenetic Revolution’ and our own Dr. Guy Sutton, the DVD begins with a basic review of genetic processes and discusses the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project has given us more questions than answers, we now realise that the genetic code of an individual is only the starting point, it does not define life.


Beyond Genetics

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

“Nature or Nurture?” is a long-running debate in psychology, one heavily-influenced by developments in genetics and a rise in the popular belief that “dna is destiny”: the idea human behaviour is broadly is determined by a “good” or a “bad” roll of the genetic dice.

This 3-part film, featuring contributions from Dr Nessa Carey and Dr Guy Sutton, goes “Beyond Genetics” to explore recent developments in the field of Epigenetics that show the way genes actually work is shaped by environmental influences – a development that introduces a new and exciting dimension to the debate, for both psychologists and sociologists.


Beyond Genetics 4: Histone Modification

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Taken from our forthcoming (August 2016) Psychology film “Beyond Genetics” this simple animation illustrates histone modification through both  tight and loose DNA binding.

Beyond Genetics 3: DNA Methylation

Monday, July 11th, 2016

This short animation, taken from the second part of the forthcoming “Beyond Genetics” film, “Turn Me On / Turn Me Off” provides a simple visual representation of DNA Methylation.

Beyond Genetics 2: Epigenetic Tagging

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

This simple animation, taken from the second part of the forthcoming “Beyond Genetics” film, “Turn Me On / Turn Me Off” provides a simple visual representation of epigenetic tagging.

Beyond Genetics 1: DNA and Proteins

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Our latest (August 2016) 3-part film “Beyond Genetics” shows how developments in the field of epigenetics are shedding new light on the “nature – nurture” debate and this simple animation, taken from the first part of the film “All in the Genes?” illustrates the relationship between DNA, proteins and genetic transmission.


Friday, May 13th, 2016

Short animation, taken from our forthcoming “Beyond Genetics” film featuring Guy Sutton and Nessa Carey, that shows the relationship between histones, dna and epigenetic marks.