Epigenetics and the brain:
It has been found in studies of humans and rodents (Eric J. Nestler Hidden Switches in the Mind SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 305 no. 6 December 2011 page 77) that brain function and thus structure is not strictly a result of the genes the embryo inherits.  For instance they cite a case of identical twins who acted much the same until they reached college and were exposed to cocaine.  One became an addict and the other did not.  It is thought that the difference was due to changes in the epigenetic control of genes during embryonic and fetal development. 

It gets stranger.  Some mother rats are quite enthusiastic in grooming their pups.  No surprise there.  Neglected pups grow up to be nervous adults.  Fine.  And they neglect their own pups.  That’s odd.  The “Modern Synthesis” that reconciled genetics and evolution (after a long and embarrassing quarrel) takes it that acquired characteristics are not inherited. Evolution, life in fact, is just the competition between genes.  You have heard of the book The Selfish Gene.  Well it seems not to be quite so simple. 

Take a stressed male mouse and let him impregnate a female and the offspring will often show signs of having been stressed.  The belief is that what is going on is that epigenetic changes – methylation and acetylation are the ones mentioned in the article – can be acquired and passed on.  The effect is mostly, but not quite, reversed if instead of letting the mouse impregnate a female, his sperm is taken and an embryo produced by artificial insemination.

Then they lowered what to me was the boom.  Stress the male by exposing him to male mice that consistently bully him.  Then let him impregnate a female.  She will treat the resulting pups differently from the way she would treat the pups of a more fortunate male. 

My mind boggles.  I thought female mice would have no concept at all of any connection between intercourse and pups.  Maybe they don’t, but the evidence is that they ACT is if they do. 

Personally, moi?  Well my mother was extremely nurturing.  I am, as a mouse would be under such circumstances, just about immune to depression.  Oh I can get annoyed, true enough.  But feelings of despair and worthlessness?  I don’t even feel despair about the current project, in defiance of all advice, logic and experience. 

Did anybody ever intimidate my father?  I cannot even imagine such an event. 

But somehow I wound up being excessively polite.  People have always walked all over me.  One of the few rewards of this blog has been that I actually get to say something.  Usually I get interrupted, ignored or contradicted before I have even got to the point.  Were I to try to say, “It rains here a lot, but not as much as it used to,” the conversation would go, “It rains here a lot …” “That’s stupid; it rains everywhere; it doesn’t rain here as much as it does a lot of places, and besides nobody cares about rain.”  You see what I mean. 

Feel free to join the majority and go after me by writing info@nobabies.net.  I can handle it. 

I wonder whether if I were to have children whether they’d be depressed all the time.

Anyway, if methylation patterns in your brain can drive you to depression or drug addiction it is no stretch to think they control your ideas about sex and babies. 

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