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Epigenetics and the Brain

In Scientific American this month, Mount Sinai Medical Center's Eric Nestler says people's experiences can lead to epigenetic changes in the brain, which can in turn contribute to some mental illnesses. About half of all risk for conditions like addiction or depression is genetic, but researchers are beginning to see that psychiatric disorders are "precipitated in genetically susceptible individuals by environmental inputs — exposure to drugs or stress, say — and can even be influenced by random molecular events that occur during development," Nestler says. Because of this, no two people will have the same development, not even identical twins. New findings suggest that a person's experience can mark their chromosomes epigenetically, and these marks can then turn genes on or off without mutating or changing them, Nestler adds.

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.