News FocusEpigenetics

A Role for Epigenetics in Cognition

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Science  02 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5987, pp. 27
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5987.27

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The push to show that epigenetics can translate early life experiences into lasting changes in behavior (see main text) has been accompanied by a parallel surge of interest in how chemical modifications to DNA can affect cognition. This work sprang from research in the late 1990s showing that abnormalities in DNA methylation are involved in developmental disorders that cause intellectual impairment, including Angelman syndrome and Rett syndrome. Several labs have since found evidence that epigenetic mechanisms play important roles in learning and memory in adult rodents. One recent study even suggests that these mechanisms may help explain why memory declines with age.