Beyond Genetics

“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.

  1. All in genes?  This section begins by outlining the notion of the Central Dogma – the idea that gene expression involves genetic information:
  • encoded in a cell’s DNA
  • transcribed into small, portable ribonucleic acid (RNA) messages
  • translated to make proteins – the building blocks of life.

These ideas are developed in relation to the Human Genome Project that both contributed valuable knowledge to our understanding of human genetics and raised more questions than it answered – questions that seem to be taking us beyond genetics…

  1. Turn Me On / Turn Me Off starts by looking at the limitations of genetics through the medium of twin studies – why, for example, genetically-identical twins develop in ways that can be seen as incompatible with the arguments contained in the Central Dogma.

This section introduces and explains the idea of epigenetics – the study of biological processes that change gene expression without changing the underlying DNA sequence; in other words, how environmental influences can switch genes on and off and, much more controversially, whether this information can be passed on to future generations…

  1. The Nurture in Your Nature looks in greater detail at epigenetic processes, using Jirtle and Waterland’s Agouti mice and Bygren’s Overkalix studies to explore how environmental changes can produce epigenetic changes in gene expression.

Beyond Genetics is now available as a Digital Download (to rent or buy)

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