For a long time, we have collectively believed that directly inherited genetic traits play a major defining role in who we are and how we turn out. The new science of epigenetics is changing how we think about inherited traits, as it becomes clear that proclivities for certain behaviors shared by our parents are more than just learned. By inheriting genes with certain sequences “hidden” due to methylation (see below), we can become pre-disposed to certain behaviors, levels of stress hormones or neurotransmitters, and even certain diseases.
Epigenetics is defined as “the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself”. DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism that occurs by the addition of a methyl (CH3) group to DNA. DNA methylation is an active process, constantly occurring and altering biological functioning as cells read DNA sequences for instruction. DNA methylation is vital to healthy growth and development- it enables the expression of retroviral genes to be suppressed, along with other dangerous DNA sequences in existence.
Researchers have linked abnormal DNA methylation to several adverse outcomes, including human diseases. Hyper-methylation often results in the silencing of tumor suppressor genes. Links between DNA methylation and human diseases such as lupus, muscular dystrophy and various congenital defects are also currently under study.
DNA changes can occur not just during a lifetime, but from minute to minute, as genes are turned on or off like a switch by methyl groups. There is strong evidence which suggests that methylation variations are transmissible to offspring, meaning it’s much easier for us to inherit acquired traits from our parents and grandparents, like diet and lifestyle, or even a heightened susceptibility to disease. According to Susan Dafoe-Abbey, “epigenetic changes often serve to biologically prepare offspring for an environment similar to that of the parents, and multigenerational ancestral trauma may be passed on through the placenta during pregnancy with each subsequent generation a little less able to manage stress.”
What can you do to be proactive?
Neuromodulation is widely defined as any process which acts directly on the brain to create homeostasis, or a state of balance. Cells are using endogenous neuromodulation at any given time to regulate their response to the environment. There are also forms of exogenous neuromodulation- direct stimulation of the brain with electricity is used for movement disorders. Meditation is a form of neuromodulation, as is taking supplements (or pharmaceutical agents) which cross the blood brain barrier and act directly on the brain.
Possibly the best and most precise form of neuromodulation is neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a computer-aided training method in which selected parameters of the patients own brain activity is monitored and then altered. Neurofeedback is a form of neuromodulation- it regulates the brain’s optimal functioning, up or down regulating as needed to restore optimal brain functioning and prevent disease.
Using EEG assessment as a baseline, neurofeedback treatments can directly and measurably influence and up- regulate the functioning of your brain. This has implications in a wide variety of disorders.
For more information about neurofeedback, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our main website at synergyneurofeedback.com.