Genetics as a science is somewhat new on the scene. Though there were contributions from Pythagoras, Hippocrates, and Aristotle, modern genetics is said to have begun with the work of the Augustinian friar Gregor Johann Mendel. His work on pea plants, published in 1866, established the theory of Mendelian inheritance.
Since the acceptance of modern genetics theory around 1925, it was established that directly inherited genetic traits play a major role in defining who we are.
Epigenetics and Inherited Behavior
The new science of epigenetics is changing how we think about inherited traits. Epigenetics explains changes in gene function that are not mirrored by underlying changes in DNA sequence. It is related to the idea of gene expression- that organisms with the same DNA can manifest different traits, based on the influences of unique external and internal environments.
Epigenetics can be defined as the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Epigentic changes are heritable, and this is why our proclivities for certain behaviors shared by our parents are more than just learned. By inheriting genes with certain sequences “hidden” due to methylation, we can become pre-disposed to certain behaviors, levels of stress hormones or neurotransmitters, dietary choices, and even certain diseases.
The Epigenetic Mechanism of DNA Methylation
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. However, researchers have linked abnormal DNA methylation to several adverse outcomes, including human diseases.
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. According to researcher 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.”
So say you inherited some negative epigentic coding that has resulted in some sort of disease, or at least imbalance. What can you do to be proactive now?
Neuromodulation and Neurofeedback
Neuromodulation is the process by which nervous activity is regulated by way of controlling the physiological levels of several classes of neurotransmitters, acting 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- an example is direct stimulation of the brain with electricity, used in the treatment of 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.
Neurofeedback- a computer-aided training method in which selected parameters of the patients own brain activity are monitored and then altered, is a very precise form of neuromodulation. 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.
For more information about neurofeedback, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our main website at synergyneurofeedback.com.
Updated May 2020