Tag Archives: behavior

Your choices/experiences shape your grandchildren?


Anybody see the Nova episode on PBS last night? I caught only 15 minutes of it. Apparently it aired in 2007. Here’s a transcript of it.

The part I watched was about the impact of diet and chemical exposure on the lifespan and health two generations later.Very interesting!

Check out this little snippet:

NARRATOR: The diagram showed a significant link between generations, between the diet in one and the life expectancy of another.

OLOV BYGREN: When you think that you have found something important for the understanding of the seasons itself, you can imagine that this is something really special.

MARCUS PEMBREY: This is going to become a famous diagram, I’m convinced about that. I get so excited every time I see it. It’s just amazing. Every time I look at it, I find it really exciting. It’s fantastic.

NARRATOR: Much about these findings puzzles researchers. Why, for instance, does this effect only appear in the paternal line of inheritance? And why should famine be both harmful and beneficial, depending on the sex and age of the grandparent who experiences it?

Nonetheless, it raises a tantalizing prospect: that the impact of famine can be captured by the genes, in the egg and sperm, and that the memory of this event could be carried forward to affect grandchildren two generations later.

MARCUS PEMBREY: We are changing the view of what inheritance is. You can’t, in life, in ordinary development and living, separate out the gene from the environmental effect. They’re so intertwined.

NARRATOR: Pembrey and Bygren’s work suggests that our grandparents’ experiences effect our health. But is the effect epigenetic? With no DNA yet analyzed, Pembrey can only speculate. But in Washington state, Michael Skinner seems to have found compelling additional evidence by triggering a similar effect with commonly used pesticides. Skinner wanted to see how these chemicals would affect pregnant rats and their offspring.

Application to counseling and psychology? Do you think about the impact of your behaviors and experiences on the next generation? Do you think about your grandparents choices and experiences on your daily life? Your mood? We could easily become either fatalists (I’m controlled by others) or deniers (I’m in charge of me). But consider how trauma or suffering is passed on in family lines.

Which do you tend to be? A denier or a fatalist?

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Filed under counseling, Cultural Anthropology, Psychology

Physiology Phriday: Hormones and Behavior


Sex hormones influence our mood and memory as well as a things like sexual desire. It is fairly clear that women with decreasing levels of estrogen (during their cycle or in perimenopause) have a higher propensity for depressed affect. It seems estrogen has an impact on the serotonergic receptors in the brain. Further, menopausal women suffering from low sexual desire report increased desire when given testosterone patches.

Clearly, our bodies are designed to function at their best with the right mix of hormones. But, given our fallen, less than perfect, bodies, men and women have to deal with mood, memory, and behavior challenges when hormones are “off.” This does not mean we are controlled by hormones and unable to function well if they are suboptimal. But, it does mean thinking and responding well may be more difficult.

Consider this hypothetical. A 15 year old challenges a 43 year old, out of shape, man to a game of one-on-one basketball. At that moment, testosterone fires through his body. He is more likely to accept that challenge and play beyond his conditioning so as to crush that 15 year old (to prove his male superiority to the 15 year old and to prove to himself he’s still got it, whatever it is.) in a best of 3 series. He gloats in victory only to cross the street and be unable to move for some time because he overextended himself and is experiencing severe ozygen deprivation.

How did testosterone work here? I don’t know but I’m looking for something to help me look less stupid 🙂

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Filed under counseling science