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Genetics of Psychological Well-BeingThe role of heritability and genetics in positive psychology$
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Michael Pluess

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686674.001.0001

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Epigenetics and well-being: optimal adaptation to the environment

Epigenetics and well-being: optimal adaptation to the environment

Chapter:
(p.211) Chapter 13 Epigenetics and well-being: optimal adaptation to the environment
Source:
Genetics of Psychological Well-Being
Author(s):

Moshe Szyf

Michael Pluess

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686674.003.0013

Humans like other species need to adapt to their physical and social environments to maintain optimal functioning. The concept of epigenetics was developed to provide an explanation for the fact that in multicellular organisms, the same DNA encodes different phenotypes in different tissues. This chapter proposes that environmental influences utilize a similar mechanism to alter and adapt the genome through epigenetic modulation, which involves amongst other mechanisms the chemical modification of the DNA itself by methyl groups (DNA Methylation), as well as the chemical modification of chromatin which packages and organizes DNA in the nucleus (Histone Modification). Such adaptation of the genome to experiences and exposures occurs at critical junctures in life and is essential for the development of well-being. A better understanding of the factors that shape epigenetic adaptation and the epigenetic mechanism involved in gene–environment interaction will make an important contribution to our knowledge of psychological well-being.

Keywords:   epigenetics, DNA Methylation, histone modification, gene–environment interaction, epigenetic adaptation

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