Neuroscience and Epigenetics

MRI scans of the brain.  Photo credit:  Iran Daily, Creative Commons. 


neuroscience and epigenetics

Messages and Essays on Neuroscience and Epigenetics

A Neuroscientific Reason for Why Retributive Justice is from the Fall, and Penal Substitution is Immature (NHI blog, Apr 28, 2016) on the Fall and the exile from the Garden 

Helpful Books and Articles on Neuroscience and Epigenetics

Benedict Carey, A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues (NY Times, Nov 7, 2006)

Michael D. Lemonick, How We Get Addicted (Time, Jul 5, 2007) and

Time Magazine Interactive, Addiction and the Brain (Time)

Benedict Carey, Who's Minding the Mind? (NY Times, Jul 31, 2007)

William M. Struthers, Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain (Amazon book, 2009)

Melinda Wenner, Study: Religion is Good for Kids (LiveScience, Jan 11, 2008)

John Cloud, Epigenetics: Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny (Time, Jan 6, 2010)

Center for Disease Control, Adverse Childhood Experience Study: studies published from 1998 to 2011

Jonah Lerner, Depression's Upside (NY Times, Feb 25, 2010) includes links between depression and mental exhaustion, depression and brain activity, depression and creative problem solving

Gail Dines, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (Amazon book, Apr 2011)

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, The Essential Guide to Defense Mechanisms (Psychology Today, Oct 22, 2011)

Judith Horstman, The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex, and the Brain: The Neuroscience of How, When, Why, and Who We Love (Amazon book, Dec 27, 2011)

William F. N. Chan, Male Microchimerism in the Human Female Brain (PLOSone, Sep 26, 2012)

LaVelle Hendricks, Sam Bore, Dean Aslinia, Guy Morriss, The Effects of Anger on the Brain and Body (National Forum Journal of Counseling and Addiction, 2013) see also Sarah N. Garfinkel, et. al., Anger in Brain and Body: The Neural and Psychological Perturbation of Decision-Making by Emotion (Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neuroscience, Jan 2016) and infographic How Anger Affects the Brain and Body (National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine)

Joshua Lang, Awakening (The Atlantic, Jan 2 2013) on consciousness

Judith E. Glaser, Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right (Harvard Business Review, Feb 28, 2013)

Daniel Reisel, The Neuroscience of Restorative Justice (TED talk, Feb 2013)

David Chalmers, How Do You Explain Consciousness (TED talk, Mar 2013)

Christopher Bergland, The Neuroscience of Calming a Baby (Psychology Today, Apr 22, 2013)

Dan Hurley, Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (Discover Magazine, Jun 11, 2013)

Derek Thompson, Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions (The Atlantic, Nov 22, 2013)

Giulio Tononi, Consciousness and the Brain (video, Oct 2013)

Janeen Interlandi, The Toxins That Affected Your Great-Grandparents Could Be In Your Genes (Smithsonian Magazine, Dec 2013)

Richard Gray, Phobias May Be Memories Passed Down in Genes From Ancestors (Telegraph UK, Dec 1, 2013)

Gregory Ciotti, Is Your Brain Truly Ready for Junk Food, Porn, or the Internet? (Sparring Mind blog)

Peg Streep, 6 Things You Didn't Know About How Your Brain Works (Psychology Today, Jan 13, 2014)

Shruti Ravindran, Twilight in the Box (Aeon Magazine, Feb 27, 2014) what solitary confinement does to the brain

Alanna Ketler, This Study Will Make You Think Twice About Who You Are Getting Into Bed With (Collective Evolution, Mar 18, 2014)

Colin Schultz, Pot Smokers' Brains Are Different (Smithsonian Magazine, Apr 17, 2014)

Emma Innes, How the Trauma of Life Is Passed Down in SPERM, Affecting the Mental Health of Future Generations (Daily Mail UK, Apr 23, 2014)

Christopher Bergland, Social Disadvantage Creates Genetic Wear and Tear (Psychology Today, Apr 15, 2014)

Michaeleen Doucleff, Mom's Diet Right Before Pregnancy Can Alter Baby's Genes (NPR, Apr 29, 2014)

Sam Kean, Phineas Gage: Neuroscience's Most Famous Patient (Slate, May 6, 2014)

Justine Alford, Becoming A Father Can "Rewire" A Man's Brain (IFLScience, May 29, 2014)

Laura Dimon, How Solitary Confinement Hurts the Teenage Brain (The Atlantic, Jun 30, 2014)

Anita Collins, How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain (TED Ed video, Jul 22, 2014)

Nury Vittachi, Scientists Discover That Atheists Might Not Exist, and That's Not a Joke (Science 2.0, Jul 6, 2014) cited by Casey Luskin, Evolutionary Studies Suggest that Atheists, Whatever They Say to the Contrary, Really Do Believe in God (Evolution News, Aug 1, 2014) says "karmic justice" (that is, cosmic retributive justice) is the "default setting" for the "religious part" of our brains. I underscore that this finding comes from the current understanding of cognitive neuroscience. It helps to explain to me why, when John Calvin developed the idea of penal substitution, that theory played on the "karmic justice" section of the human brain and then served to *supplant* the theological structure of genuine Trinitarian thought. For the first 1500 years, Christian Trinitarian theology was *not aligned* with the "default setting" of neural circuitry in our brains.

The earliest atonement theory was medical and not penal, the implications for relationships and socio-political ethics was for restorative, not retributive, justice, and the biblical motif of fire was interpreted as rehabilitative and purifying, not retributive and punishing. So: Christian theology and teaching of this type (firmly held by the Eastern Orthodox, along with Catholics and Protestants like me who are calling for a return to the Nicene period) have to consistently *overcome* something deeply wired in our brains. It does not take advantage of the brain, or "hijack" the brain, as Dr. Andy Thomson states at the American Atheists Conference 2009, who claimed to have no "bias" whatsoever (of course).

We should not be surprised now that the most deeply philosophical forms of both ancient Hindu and ancient Greek cosmology *agreed* about cycles of karma, reincarnation, and the principle of retribution. That view of the world just makes more sense to us intuitively. It also concurs with the more natural observations of how the world works: in endless cycles and circles. But, Judeo-Christianity, as a belief system, has a higher burden of proof. The only way it can offer an epistemology by which it can be evaluated is in the realm of history. Just as serving on a jury requires us to dig into the unrepeatable history of past personal, human events, so the epistemology that is appropriate to Judeo-Christianity is a historical epistemology. Are there signposts in history upon which it builds the case for a good God who intervenes on behalf of human beings and against human evil? Entertaining as videos like Dr. Thomson's are, nothing conclusive can be drawn from them, except that some practitioners of neuroscience overstate themselves, as they're not even in the appropriate academic discipline.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime (TED Talk, Sep 2014) re: when a child experiences abuse, neglect, parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, separation or divorce, domestic violence

Melissa Dahl, Why Men Don't Remember Anything (NY Magazine, Sep 19, 2014)

Sam Brodey, Scientists Dissected the Brains of 79 NFL Players. What They Found Is Disturbing. (Mother Jones, Oct 1, 2014)

Jesse Singal, How Fairness Makes Our Brains Tingle (New Yorker Magazine, Oct 20, 2014)

Priya Joshi, Learning a New Language Stimulates Same Pleasure Centres in the Brain as Sex and Chocolate (International Business Times, Oct 25, 2014)

Eileen Shim, Scientists Have Discovered an Activity Just as Pleasurable as Sex, Drugs and Gambling (Mic, Oct 28, 2014)

Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico, The Sad, Twisted Truth About Conservative Christianity's Effect on the Mind (Salon, Nov 1, 2014) - "Some religious beliefs may alter brain function..."

Sara Reardon, Gut-Brain Link Grabs Neuroscientists (Nature, Nov 12, 2014)

Judith Shulevitz, The Science of Suffering: Kids Are Inheriting Their Parents' Trauma.  Can Science Stop It?  (New Republic, Nov 16, 2014)

Alexis Tsioulcas, Musicians' Brains Really Do Work Differently, In a Good Way (NPR, Nov 20, 2014)

Robert Martone, Scientists Discover Children's Cells Living in Mother's Brains (Scientific American, Dec 4, 2014)

Carol Dweck, The Power of Believing That You Can Improve (TED Talk, Dec 17, 2014)

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Baby Brains (National Geographic, Jan 2015) - on the first year of a baby's development

Feel Guide, New Research Discovers Depression Is An Allergic Reaction to Inflammation (Feel Guide, Jan 6, 2015)

Amy Ellis Nutt, Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children, New Study Says (Washington Post, Jan 7, 2015)

Tom Barnes, Science Just Discovered Something Amazing About What Those Childhood Piano Lessons Did to You (Mic, Jan 8, 2015)

Adrienne Lafrance, What Happens to a Woman's Brain When She Becomes a Mother (The Atlantic, Jan 8, 2015)

Matt Fradd, Neuroscience Has Proved That Porn is Literally Making Men's Brains More Childish (LifeSite News, Jan 14, 2015)

Elahe Izadi, How Men and Women Process Emotions Differently (Washington Post, Jan 23, 2015)

Fresh Air, Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains (NPR, Jan 28, 2015)

Sound Medicine, Childhood Trauma Leads to Brains Wired for Fear (Sound Medicine News, Feb 3, 2015)

Gary Wilson, Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction (Amazon book, Feb 2015)

Pam Weintraub, The Elastic Brain (Aeon, Feb 27, 2015)

Claire Landsbaum, What a Neuroscientist Said About Eminem's Brain (NY Magazine, Mar 3, 2015)

Gretchen Reynolds, One Twin Exercises, the Other Doesn't (NY Times, Mar 4, 2015)

Allison Eck, Stress from Poverty Decreases Child Brain Sizes - Even at Birth (PBS, Mar 31, 2015)

Lizette Borreli, Birth Control Pill May Alter Woman's Brain Structure; Are There Real-World Consequences? (Medical Daily, Apr 7, 2015)

Lisa Miller, Why Kids Need Spirituality (NY Magazine, Apr 16, 2015)

Trace Dominguez, How Poverty Changes Your Brain (Test Tube video, Apr 22, 2015)

Destin Sandlin, The Backwards Brain Bicycle (Smarter Every Day, Apr 24, 2015) about brain bias, learning and unlearning

Peter Gray, Early Academic Training Produces Long-Term Harm (Psychology Today, May 5, 2015)

Florence Waters, Is Wi-Fi Making Your Child Ill?  France Bans Wi-Fi in Nurseries and Primary Schools (Telegraph UK, May 9, 2015)

Richard A. Friedman, Infidelity Lurks in Your Genes (NY Times, May 24, 2015)

Annalaura Montgomery Chuang, Formed by War: Combat Wounds the Soul, but the Gospel Offers Hope (Christianity Today, May 26, 2015)

Debra Kain, Researchers Find Missing Link Between Brain and Immune System (Neuroscience News, Jun 1, 2015)

Kathy Gilsinian, The Buddhist and the Neuroscientist: What Compassion Does To Your Brain (The Atlantic, Jul 4, 2015)

Dylan Goldstein, The Neuroscience of 6 Drugs In a Nutshell (Brain Decoder, Jun 26, 2015)

Stephanie Pappas, The Frustrating Search for Free Will (Brain Decoder, Jul 6, 2015)

Dylan Goldstein, Lonely People's Brains Look 'Hungry' For Social Connection (Brain Decoder, Jul 6, 2015)

Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht, William Cunningham, Empathy is Actually a Choice (NY Times, Jul 10, 2015)

James Hamblin, The Paradox of Effort: A Medical Case Against Too Much Self-Control (The Atlantic, Jul 16, 2015)

Matt Fradd, 4 Ways Porn Warps the Male Brain (Covenant Eyes, Jul 31, 2015)

Anil Ananthaswamy, The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations Into the Strange New Science of Self (Amazon book, Aug 4, 2015)

Vivian Giang, Your Brain Is Particularly Vulnerable to Trauma at Two Distinct Ages (Quartz, Aug 4, 2015)

Donna Jackson Nakazawa, The Last Best Cure: 7 Ways Childhood Adversity Changes the Brain (Psychology Today, Aug 7, 2015)

Christian Jarrett, The Neuroscience of Being a Selfish Jerk (New York Magazine, Aug 19, 2015)

Helen Thomson, Study of Holocaust Survivors Finds Trauma Passed on to Children's Genes (The Guardian, Aug 21, 2015)

Big Think Editors, Why Black Mental Health Is Different From White Mental Health (Big Think, Aug 26, 2015)

Christian Jarrett, Does Reading Literature Really Beef Up Your Brain? (NY Magazine, Sep 3, 2015)

Christian Jarrett, Drugs and Talk Therapy Affect the Brain in Different Ways (NY Magazine, Sep 30, 2015)

Dan Gray, The Serious Mental Costs of Watching Porn (Fight the New Drug, Oct 16, 2015)

Artur Rosman, Top 10 Books on Theology and Neuroscience (Patheos, Oct 22, 2015)

Victoria Woollaston, Could Your Views on God and Immigration Be Changed Using Magnets? Brain Simulation Can Alter Beliefs, Study Claims (Daily Mail, Oct 14, 2015) and the interpretation by Joel McDurmon, Atheists Embarrassed: Study Proves Atheism Uses Less Brain Function (The American Vision, Oct 26, 2015)

Mariah's Health Journey (blog, Oct 30, 2015) about Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome

Abraham Riesman and Jesse Singal, This Is Your Brain on Advertising: Why Kids Are So Vulnerable to Marketing (NY Magazine, Nov 3, 2015)

Christian Jarrett, When Jealousy and Empathy Collide in the Brain (NY Magazine, Nov 5, 2015)

Carl Zimmer, Parents May Pass Down More Than Just Genes, Study Suggests (NY Times, Dec 3, 2015)

Emmeline Zhao, Why Identity and Emotion Are Central to Motivating the Teenage Brain (KQED, Dec 10, 2015)

Dawn Papple, Neuroscience Research: Does Free Will Actually Exist? (Inquisitr, Jan 10, 2016)

Jennifer Delgado, Did You Know That Intelligence is Inherited from Mothers? (Psychology Spot, Mar 2016)

Ian Sample, Neuroscientists Create 'Atlas' Showing How Words Are Organised in the Brain (Guardian, Apr 27, 2015)

Mark Wolynn, It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are (Science & Nonduality, Apr 28, 2016) review of his book

Robert Epstein, The Empty Brain (Aeon, May 18, 2016) on why the brain is not a computer

Emily Deruy, The Complex Lives of Babies (The Atlantic, Jun 20, 2016)

Maia Szalavitz, Can You Get Over an Addiction? (NY Times, Jun 25, 2016)

Sean Kane, 7 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Make Art, Even If You're Bad At It (Business Insider, Jun 29, 2016) art's impact on the brain

Rignam Wangkhang, Can Trauma Be Passed from Parent to Child? (Ozy, Jul 7, 2016)

Taniya Chadha, Role of Nutrition in the Cognitive Development of Preschoolers (My City 4 Kids, Jul 14, 2016)

Sumathi Reddy, Can This Brain Exercise Put Off Dementia? (WSJ, Jul 25, 2016)

Douglas Main, Breastfed Infants' Brains Develop Better, Faster (Newsweek, Aug 1, 2016)

Donna Jackson Nakazawa, Childhood Trauma Leads to Lifelong Chronic Illness - So Why Isn't the Medical Community Helping Patients? (ACES Too High News, Aug 10, 2016)

Gaia Vince, How Language Is Processed By Your Brain (CNN, Aug 16, 2016)

James Hamblin, Why One Neuroscientist Started Blasting His Core (The Atlantic, Aug 24, 2016)

Julie Sedivy, How Morality Changes in a Foreign Language (Scientific American, Sep 14, 2016)

Michael Alison Chandler, This Doctor Pioneered a Way to Treat Stress in Children, a Startling Source of Future Disease (Washington Post, Oct 6, 2016)

Fergus Walsh, Smoking Causes Hundreds of DNA Charges (BBC News, Nov 3, 2016)

James Hamblin, Why Morning People Thrive (The Atlantic, Nov 4, 2016)

Rod Dreher, On Time: Arrival (The American Conservative, Nov 24, 2016) spoiler alert! but great exploration of neuroplasticity and language

Earl Miller, Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Multitask, According to an MIT Neuroscientist (Fortune, Dec 7, 2016)

Olivia Goldhill, Scientists Say Your "Mind" Isn't Confined to Your Brain, or Even Your Body (Quartz, Dec 24, 2016)

Jerry Bowyer, Looking for a Cognitive Enhancer? Skip the Drugs and Try Fasting Instead (Forbes, Jan 6, 2017)

Bruce Goldman, Two Minds: The Cognitive Differences Between Men and Women (Stanford University Medicine, Spring 2017) on the neuroscientific study of gender differences. See also Leonard Sax, A New Study Blows Up Old Ideas About Girls and Boys (Psychology Today, Mar 27, 2019) studies of the neural development of fetuses show major differences between girls and boys, challenging the views of Judith Butler and Cordelia Fine that “gender” has no biological basis, for example Genevieve Fox, Want Meet the Neuroscientist Shattering the Myth of the Gendered Brain  (The Guardian, Feb 24, 2019) "why asking whether your brain is male or female is the wrong question."

Olivia Goldhill, For Half a Century, Neuroscientists Thought They Knew How Memory Worked. They Were Wrong (Quartz, Apr 15, 2017)

Tara Garcia Mathewson, How Poverty Changes the Brain (The Atlantic, Apr 19, 2017)

Lauren Gelman, Benefits of Reading: Getting Smart, Thin, Healthy, Happy (Reader's Digest, Apr 2017)

Tim Urban, Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future (Wait But Why, Apr 20, 2017)

Katherine Sellgren, Babies with Involved Fathers Learn Faster, Study Finds (BBC, May 10, 2017)

Frederica Perera, The Womb Is No Protection From Toxic Chemicals (NY Times, Jun 1, 2017)

Newsner, Latest Research Reveals the More You Hug Your Kids - the Smarter They Get (Newsner, Jun 9, 2017)

John Schwartz, Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain (NY Times, Aug 4, 2017)

Thoughty2, The Truth Why Modern Music Is Awful (Thoughty2, Aug 5, 2017) a Youtube video; at 17 - 18 minutes, mentions dopamine and brain activity

James Taranto, The Politicization of Motherhood (WSJ, Oct 27, 2017) research on the first three years of child development, and the political reception of this science

Scott Berson, How Often You Hold Your Baby Actually Affects Their DNA, Study Finds (Miami Herald, Nov 28, 2017)

Olga Khazan, Even Small Amounts of Alcohol Impair Memory (The Atlantic, Dec 15, 2017)

Janelle Nanos, Stop Answering Your Phone (Boston Globe, Jan 6, 2018) discusses neurological impact on young people

Sean Illing, This is What Love Does to Your Brain (Vox, Apr 23, 2018)

Brian Resnick, We're Underestimating the Mind-Warping Potential of Fake Video (Vox, Apr 23, 2018)

Ari Ne'eman, The CDC Just Announced One in 59 Children Are Autistic. Here's Why That's Not Evidence of an Epidemic (Vox, Apr 30, 2018)

Ashley Fetters, The Exceptional Cruelty of a No-Hugging Policy (The Atlantic, Jun 20, 2018) and Charlie Baily and Schuyler Henderson, The Clinical Case for Keeping Families Together (The Atlantic, Jun 20, 2018)

Ed Yong, A Landmark Study on the Origins of Alcoholism (The Atlantic, Jun 21, 2018) studies of the amygdala

Meghna Chakrabarti and Chris Citorik, How Motherhood Changes The Brain (NPR, Jul 18, 2018) a 14 minute radio segment.  See also Chelsea Conaboy, Motherhood Brings the Most Dramatic Brain Changes of a Woman’s Life, So Why Does Prenatal Care Ignore the Topic Altogether?  (Boston Globe, Jul 17, 2018)

Katherine J. Wu, Dads Pass On More Than Genetics in Their Sperm (Smithsonian, Jul 26, 2018)

Keith Brannon, Tulane Psychiatrist Wins National Award for Research That Shows How Trauma Seeps Across Generations (Tulane University, Aug 17, 2018)

Allison Aubrey, Want To Keep Your Brain Sharp? Take Care Of Your Eyes And Ears (NPR, Oct 22, 2018)

The Young Turks, Fear and Loathing in the Conservative Mind (The Young Turks, Feb 14, 2019) the emotion of disgust, and its correlation to politically conservative instincts; how language triggering disgust is often used with religious ideology of a "pure community."  References Kathleen McAuliffe, Fear This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society (Amazon book, 2016); see Kathleen McAuliffe, The Psychology (and Politics) of Disgust (Big Think, Sep 23, 2016). See also Bobby Azarian, A Complete Psychological Analysis of Trump's Support (Psychology Today, Dec 27, 2018) “Science can help us make sense of the president's political invincibility”

Kevin Roose, Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain (NY Times, Feb 23, 2019)

Daily Health Post Editorial, New Study: The More you Hug your Kids, the More Their Brains Develop (Daily Health Post, Jul 1, 2019)

Justin Brown, Neuroscience Reveals: This Is How Gratitude Literally Rewrites Your Brain to Be Happier (Real Farmacy, Jul 13, 2019)

Bahar Gholipour, A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked (The Atlantic, Sep 10, 2019) “For decades, a landmark brain study fed speculation about whether we control our own actions. It seems to have made a classic mistake.”

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