I’m not at all sure why I feel safer on the planet knowing the Dalai Lama is here, but I do. The following links are to information related to the conference presentation to the Dalai Lama about the effects of maternal distress behaviors on her offspring – just a little T-Day light reading!
This is the gist of science told the Dalai Lama:
If a distressed mother rat raises all her own babies, they will all turn out distressed.
If a calm mother rat raises all her own babies, they will all turn out calm.
If you change the litters at birth, and give the calm mother’s babies to the distressed mother, all those babies will grow up distressed.
If you take the distressed mother’s babies at birth and give them to the calm mother, the babies will all grow up calm.
In essence, the distressed mother’s treatment of her babies triggers epigenetic changes in the way the babies she raises turn out because their genes are triggered differently by the distress.
Pity the Poor Lab Rat by Kathy Brown
“…in spite of all our advances in knowledge about mental disorders and the advances in technology that have resulted in an impressive smorgasbord of pharmaceutical agents, the overall prevalence of depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Moreover, the average age at onset continues to drop. Whereas patients once presented with their initial depressive episode in their fifth decade of life, the average age of onset has now dropped into the twenties.”
Mom, Dad, DNA and Suicide by Sharon Begley
“Such changes are called “epigenetic,” to distinguish them from changes that affect the sequence of nucleotides in DNA. Epigenetics is arguably the next frontier in genetic research, promising to show why people with identical DNA, such as monozygotic twins, have different traits, including traits known to be strongly affected by genes. The answer seems to be that the events of our lives, including parental behavior, turns some genes on and some genes off. In this case, parental care (or, specifically, abuse) changed the expression of the crucial glucocorticoid-receptor gene in the brain.”
“Suicide victims who were abused as children have clear genetic changes in their brains…”
While the new research on neuroplasticity in the brain is important, those of us whose body and brain were changed as a result of severe early child abuse, again, may not be in the realm of ‘ordinary’ when it comes to the changes we can expect in our brains compared to others…..
“At the 12th mind and life conference in dharamshala, buddhism and modern science found points of convergence as the dalai lama and western scientists spoke about neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change with experience and focused training.”
“At the Dalai Lama’s private compound in Dharamsala, India, leading neuroscientists and Buddhist philosophers met to consider “neuroplasticity.” The conference was organized by the Mind and Life Institute as part of a series of meetings, beginning in 1987, for brain researchers and Buddhist scholars to share insights into the workings of the mind and brain. The 2004 meeting set out to answer two questions: “Does the brain have the ability to change, and what is the power of the mind to change it?””
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