Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Epigenetics: Nature vs. Nurture?

In yesterday’s inter­view with Michael Pos­ner, he says:

- “There is a grow­ing num­ber of stud­ies that show the impor­tance of inter­ac­tion between our genes and each of our envi­ron­ments. Epi­ge­net­ics is going to help us under­stand that ques­tion bet­ter, but let me share a very inter­est­ing piece of research from my lab where we found an unusu­al inter­ac­tion between genet­ics and par­ent­ing.”

- “Good par­ent­ing, as mea­sured by dif­fer­ent research-based scales, has been shown to build good effort­ful con­trol which, as we saw ear­li­er, is so impor­tant. Now, what we found is that some spe­cif­ic genes reduced, even elim­i­nat­ed, the influ­ence of the qual­i­ty of par­ent­ing. In oth­er words, some children’s devel­op­ment real­ly depends on how their par­ents bring them up, where­as oth­ers do not — or do to a much small­er extent.”

Now check out this fas­ci­nat­ing arti­cle in the Econ­o­mist:Domes­ti­ca­tion and intel­li­gence in dogs and wolves | Not so dumb ani­mals

- “Monique Udell of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Flori­da … won­dered whether learn­ing rather than evo­lu­tion explained his obser­va­tions. Her team there­fore worked with a mix­ture of pet dogs, dogs from ani­mal shel­ters that had had min­i­mal inter­ac­tion with peo­ple, and wolves raised by humans.”

- “As they report in Ani­mal Behav­iour, the wolves out­per­formed both shel­ter dogs and pets. Indeed, six of the eight wolves fol­lowed human ges­tures per­fect­ly in more than eight out of ten tri­als. Only three of eight pets were as suc­cess­ful as that and, as with Dr Hare’s wolves, none of the shel­ter dogs per­formed bet­ter than chance. Far from being dumb, then, wolves are smarter than dogs. You just have to bring ‘em up prop­er.”

Which rais­es the obvi­ous ques­tions:

- isn’t “intel­li­gence” more about “adapt­abil­i­ty to new envi­ron­ments” more than about IQ (IQ can be an impor­tant fac­tor in adapt­ing to spe­cif­ic envi­ron­ments, say, engi­neer­ing)?

- why do we keep talk­ing about nature vs. nur­ture, when they are obvi­ous­ly com­pli­men­ta­ry process­es? time to focus on how to “bring ‘em up proper”…and even how to “bring our­selves up prop­er”

As men­tioned in the post Richard Dawkins and Alfred Nobel: beyond nature and nur­ture, Dawkins says in his great book “The Self­ish Gene” that:

- “We have at least the men­tal equip­ment to fos­ter our long-term self­ish inter­ests rather than mere­ly our short-term ones…We have the pow­er to defy the self­ish genes of our birth and, if nec­es­sary, the self­ish memes of our indoc­tri­na­tion. We can even dis­cuss ways of delib­er­ate­ly cul­ti­vat­ing and nur­tur­ing pure, dis­in­ter­est­ed altru­ism-some­thing that has no place in nature, some­thing that has nev­er exist­ed before in the whole his­to­ry of the world.”

Leave a Reply...

Loading Facebook Comments ...

2 Responses

  1. j says:

    Here Here!
    “why do we keep talk­ing about nature vs. nur­ture, when they are obvi­ous­ly com­pli­men­ta­ry process­es?”
    A great prompt. I look for­ward to this point of view expand­ing through this world of either/or. How much bet­ter, oppos­ing views har­mo­nized!
    Very love­ly lay­out on this page! Your col­or schemes and use of space delight me!
    In Joy!

  2. Thank you for the com­ment and design com­pli­ments 🙂 will pass them on to the team.

Leave a Reply

Categories: Education & Lifelong Learning

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

All Slidedecks & Recordings Available — click image below

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.