At the nexus of nature and nurture

Can environments actually change gene expression? HELP's affiliated scholar, Dr. Michael Kobor is exploring whether early childhood experience leaves lasting biological marks on the brain.

A recent study on rats "compared the pups of nurturing mothers – those who made their milk readily available, and spent a lot of time licking their progeny – with the pups of those who were less attentive to their young. The pups of the less attentive mothers were more vulnerable to stress, and this difference corresponded to chemical tags on certain genes."

"The findings electrified a whole segment of developmental scientists by demonstrating how environmental conditions can affect gene expression, and thus alter the trajectory of cells and whole organisms. In other words, it showed how life circumstances can get “under the skin,” affecting behaviour through biological mechanisms."

Read the full story from UBC's Faculty of Medicine