The Scientist - Environmental impact: Research in behavioural epigenetics seeks evidence that links experience to biochemistry to gene expression and back out again


Moshe Szyf, a pharmacologist at McGill University who was one of the first to relate DNA methylation patterns to behavior, sees epigenetic processes as “the adaptive mechanism of the genome”—an essential mechanism for pruning down the wide range of all possible behaviors permitted by genes, selecting those that fit an individual’s environment.

“DNA methylation is a physiological mechanism,” he says, “by which the genome senses the world and changes itself.”