Epigenetic influence of social experiences across the lifespan. Developmental Psychobiology, 52, 299-311

Department of Psychology, Columbia University, Room 406, Schermerhorn Hall, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Developmental Psychobiology (Impact Factor: 3.31). 05/2010; 52(4):299-311. DOI: 10.1002/dev.20436
Source: PubMed


The critical role of social interactions in driving phenotypic variation has long been inferred from the association between early social deprivation and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. Recent evidence has implicated molecular pathways involved in the regulation of gene expression as one possible route through which these long-term outcomes are achieved. These epigenetic effects, though not exclusive to social experiences, may be a mechanism through which the quality of the social environment becomes embedded at a biological level. Moreover, there is increasing evidence for the transgenerational impact of these early experiences mediated through changes in social and reproductive behavior exhibited in adulthood. In this review, recent studies which highlight the epigenetic effects of parent-offspring, peer and adult social interactions both with and across generations will be discussed and the implications of this research for understanding the developmental origins of individual differences in brain and behavior will be explored.

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    • "DNA methylation , histone tail modifications, noncoding RNAs). Epigenetic modifications can mediate responses to environmental cues (Bastow et al. 2004; Petronis 2010; Feil & Fraga 2012), including behavioural (Champagne 2010, 2012; Mifsud et al. 2011) and circadian rhythm responses (DiTacchio et al. 2011; Fustin et al. 2013; Azzi et al. 2014). For example, DNA methylation is involved in transcriptional silencing, alternative splicing and activating intragenic promoters (reviewed in Jones 2012) and acts as a reversible mechanism to drive circadian clock behavioural plasticity in mice (Mus musculus; Azzi et al. 2014). "
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    • "Among environmental factors common to all infants during this critical developmental period, postnatal diet is distinctive in being characterized by limited variations that are clearly defined, i.e., during the first few months of life virtually all infants are either breast-fed or formula fed. Since dietary factors, nutritional status, and mother–infant interactions exert epigenetic effects on health and behavior (Attig et al., 2010; Champagne, 2010; McKay and Mathers, 2011), it is plausible that the differences among these diets in composition and feeding method could promote diet-specific epigenetic effects that interact with other factors to produce individualized physiologic-behavioral profiles. Surprisingly, the role of infant diet in the determination of individual differences has been largely neglected. "
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    • "with increased risk for psychopathology [5] [11] while some research went so far as to indicate that a lack of nurture (refrigerator mothers) was the cause of autism [12]. Only recently has research identified a role whereby paternal experiences can contribute to offspring outcomes through a more Lamarkian style of inheritance [13]. "
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