The end of nature vs nurture essay

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The end of nature vs nurture essay

Oxford University Press How do we become who we are? The one says genes determine an individual while the other claims the environment is the linchpin for development. New research into epigenetics—the science of how the environment influences genetic expression—is changing the conversation.

As psychologist David S. Moore explains in his newest book, The Developing Genome, this burgeoning field reveals that what counts is not what genes you have so much as what your genes are doing. Factors like stress, nutrition, and exposure to toxins all play a role in how genes are expressed—essentially which genes are turned on or off.

Unlike the static conception of nature or nurture, epigenetic research demonstrates how genes and environments continuously interact to produce characteristics throughout a lifetime.

We spoke with Moore to find out more about the science of epigenetics, its impact on the nature versus nurture debate, and the hopes and cautions that come with such a potentially revolutionary line of research. How does the science of epigenetics change the seemingly age-old nature versus nurture debate?

For the longest time, the nature-nurture debate has been cast as a kind of contest between genes and experiences. The thought was that we might have some characteristics that are caused primarily by genetic factors and other characteristics that are caused primarily by experiential factors.

Nature and nurture are always working together to produce all of our traits. Can you describe a study that you feel illustrates the science of epigenetics? The one that has drawn the most attention has been the one done by a team of researchers led by Michael Meaney and Moshe Szyf at McGill University.

These researchers watched how rat mothers interacted with their babies. They discovered that some mothers naturally lick and groom their baby rats more than other mothers do.

The end of nature vs nurture essay

They also noticed that the mothers that licked and groomed their rats the most wound up with offspring that grew up to be adults that were less stressed out when they were put into mildly stressful situations. The mothers that licked and groomed their baby rats less wound up with offspring that were more stressed out.

In order to determine if this was an effect of experience, the researchers cross fostered the baby rats, so the ones born to the high licking and grooming mothers were raised by the low licking and grooming mothers.

What they found was that it was the perinatal experience that made all the difference.

Nature vs Nurture in Psychology | Essay Example

So the question was, how can it be that these kinds of early experiences can have these long-term effects later on in adulthood? Meaney and Szyf traced the effect to epigenetics. Specifically, they discovered that in certain brain cells of baby rats, there are certain genes that get turned on when the babies are licked and groomed.

Then, the turning on of those genes leads cells to build proteins that help moderate stress responses into adulthood, because the genes stay turned on. Can you describe how epigenetic research relates to humans?

One is by looking at experiments that have been done on our primate relatives, the monkeys. The second way we can get insight into epigenetic phenomena in people is by doing correlational studies. So far, these kinds of studies have revealed that this is indeed the case.

Scientists have also discovered epigenetic effects of experiences that are less related to psychology. Again, I need to start off with a caveat. Having said that, there is an increasing amount of data that suggests that growing up poor has long-term effects on people. So, poverty seems to have consequences that produce effects that can be detected in the body decades later.

In your book, you describe the pitfalls of genetic determinism and you caution against people creating an epigenetic determinism. Can you describe the potential hazards of this type of thinking?

That is, we tend to assume that if you have this experience in poverty, you are going to be permanently scarred by it. The data seem to suggest that it may work that way, but it also seems to be the case that the experiences we have later in life also have epigenetic effects.

How does epigenetics make us rethink the idea of genetic inheritance? This has caused a bit of an uproar among some biologists. They are unsure about what to do with this new finding, because it calls to mind a pre-Darwinian biologist named Lamarck who argued that evolution occurs when the experiences we have change our bodies and we pass those bodily changes on to our offspring.

Asking which is more important, genes or environments, is kind of like asking which is more important in making an ordinary automobile run, spark plugs or gasoline. The presence now of some data that suggest that our experiences can produce biological effects that can then be transmitted to the next generation has alarmed biologists who were trained to believe that Lamarckian inheritance is impossible.

If that exposure has some sort of epigenetic effect on you, the prospect that your great-great grandchildren might be influenced by your experience is somewhat worrisome.

This is all still poorly understood, but it makes it an exciting time to be doing research in this area.The end of nature versus nurture essay.

The End of Nature Versus Nurture - Behavioral Scientist

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A never-ending conflict between scientists who study natural theories and those who stick to the ideas shared by nurture is an interesting topic for an essay discussion. Nature vs nurture debate essay reflects the positions of both sides. Nature Vs. Nurture Essay, Research Paper The nature versus nurture debate has been a classic controversy among experts for centuries.

Presently, there is no clear conclusion to the dispute; yet, there are many hypotheses. Nature vs Nurture: Genetics vs Environment Essay - The classic debated topic of Nature versus Nurture has been and will always be a quarrelsome subject in the scientific world.

Meaning, the issue of the level to which environment and heredity sway behavior and development in a person.

The end of nature vs nurture essay

A nature vs nurture essay is all about discussing an eternal debate about what impacts human behavior. Read our guide to master this type of academic writing.

If you need to take part in the nature vs. nurture debate, these pieces of advice from our team will help. The nature vs. nurture debate has been a long and bloody battle for the longest time for psychologists. Some believe that we are the products of our environment, meaning that we become who we are as a result of our upbringing, social influences, and schooling among other factors.

The End of Nature Versus Nurture - Behavioral Scientist