Keep your hands to yourself: Child abuse affects our genes

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It doesn't sound nonsensical to say that what happens when we are younger stays with us the rest of our lives. But today, for the first time ever, scientists reveal that childhood abuse can affect our genes by altering the biology of our brains. Luckily these markers can be wiped clean in the next generation and the cycle can end. In this segment, John Hockenberry goes knee-deep into the brain with guest Michael Meaney, one of the lead researchers on the work, which appears online in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

For more, read the very scientifically written and deeply wonky article abstract, Epigenetic regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor in human brain associates with childhood abuse.

Have more questions? Michael Meaney is happy to answer your questions. Post here and he'll respond.

"The types of epigenetic marks that we're looking at are not necessarily going to be transmitted from parent to offspring, so you needn't be sitting around saying 'look, I've been damaged ergo my children will be damaged no matter how good a parent I am.'"
— Michael Meaney, co-director of the Sackler Program for Epigenetics and Psychobiology at McGill University, on how child abuse affects genes