Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression/organism phenotype that occur without altering the DNA sequence. A delicate balance exists between the epigenome (the representative genome that includes all inhibitory and activating, covalent and chemical markers), and the environment that shapes development and long-term plasticity of the human brain, and thus behavioral output. Although epigenetic processes are essential for development and cellular differentiation, they also provide a conduit by which environmental influences can permanently alter neuronal structure and function. From an evolutionary perspective, this provides the organism with a mechanism for instant adaptation. Research is beginning to uncover the means by which epigenetic processes mediate brain development and plasticity and may provide us with the resources needed to restore dysfunctional learning and enhance neuroplasticity in the adult brain.
|Title of host publication||International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences|
|Editors||James D. Wright|
|Number of pages||4|
|Publication status||Published - 26 Mar 2015|
- Critical window
- Genomic imprinting
- Histone modification