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University of Toronto study demonstrates impact of adversity on early life development
Date:10/25/2012

TORONTO, ON It is time to put the nature versus nurture debate to rest and embrace growing evidence that it is the interaction between biology and environment in early life that influences human development, according to a series of studies recently published in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Biologists used to think that our differences are pre-programmed in our genes, while psychologists argued that babies are born with a blank slate and their experience writes on it to shape them into the adults they become. Instead, the important question to be asking is, 'How is our experience in early life getting embedded in our biology?'" says University of Toronto behavioural geneticist Marla Sokolowski. She is co-editor of the PNAS special edition titled "Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergarteners" along with professors Tom Boyce (University of British Columbia) and Gene Robinson (University of Illinois).

Sokolowski, who is a University Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB), the inaugural academic director of Uof T's Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development and co-director of the Experience-based Brain and Biological Development Program (EBBD) at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) says that relatively little is known about the gene-environment interplay that underlies the impact of early life adversity on adult health and behaviour.

In one of the studies in the series, Sokolowski and her colleagues found that chronic food deprivation and lack of adequate nutrition in the early life of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster had significant impact on adult behaviour and quality of life. Fruit flies are especially useful for genetic studies because they share a surprising number of qualities with humans, are inexpensive to care for and reproduce rapidly, allowing for several genera
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Contact: Sean Bettam
s.bettam@utoronto.ca
416-946-7950
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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