Scars of child abuse reach down to genetic level, scientists find

Vastet
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Hambydammit
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 oooh... thanks for the

 oooh... thanks for the link.  Good stuff!

 

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DamnDirtyApe
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 I'm going to jump in here

 I'm going to jump in here and say that while I don't dispute their results, I've got a major problem with their conclusion.

"Among the 36, 12 suffered severe childhood abuse, altering a gene that affects a person's response to trauma, the researchers reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience."

Does anyone else see the problem here?  And I'm not just talking about the clumsiness of the language (the gene isn't altered, the transcription of the gene is altered); I'd need to see the actual report in Nature, and I'll try and track it down at work tomorrow if the library still subscribes, but from what I can tell, these guys aren't controlling for substance abuse or other self-destructive behaviors in their study.  They might be comparing a group of persons abused during childhood with people who weren't, but that isn't apples and oranges.  People abused during chlidhood are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, to engage in deliberate self-harm and to suffer from anorexia nervosa, and that's a short list.  What ties all of those things together are definite biochemical changes within the subject, which could easily lead to changes in the transcription of various genes.  Until you control for that possibility, you cannot draw the conclusion that abuse in early childhood directly leads to changes in the frequency of transcription of a gene.  Science requires variable surgery, and these guys (or at least the guys summarizing the Nature article need to sharpen their scalpel.

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DamnDirtyApe wrote: I'm

Double post.


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I would have to agree that

I would have to agree that there are far too many variables to call this study conclusive. It is a start, but a very large and diverse field of test subjects will most likely be needed before this is anything but coincidence.

That being said, I think it is very interesting that people are studying things of this nature. I can already imagine breakthroughs in understanding anxiety and depression, just to name a couple.

I can't wait to see what science can do with stem cell research, now that the shackles are being removed.

"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence." - Bertrand Russell

Stewie: Yay and God said to Abraham, "you will kill your son, Issak", and Abraham said, I can't hear you, you'll have to speak into the microphone." "Oh I'm sorry, Is this better? Check, check, check... Jerry, pull the high end out, I'm still getting some hiss back here."


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I haven't had the time to

I haven't had the time to read it yet, but if anyone's interested in a pdf of the nature article I'll happily send you it.  Just PM me your address and I'll get it to you.

 

Also, Vastet, this ties in with an article I spoke about in the evolution forum.  Thought you might be interested.

 

m

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Vastet
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MichaelMcF wrote:I haven't

MichaelMcF wrote:

I haven't had the time to read it yet, but if anyone's interested in a pdf of the nature article I'll happily send you it.  Just PM me your address and I'll get it to you.

 

Also, Vastet, this ties in with an article I spoke about in the evolution forum.  Thought you might be interested.

 

m

Oo. Interesting. I hadn't seen that. Aha, august. Didn't have the net. This is why. Thanks!

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In the studies of gay and

In the studies of gay and strait people's brains, were supposed to conclude that brain structure that leads to one being gay or strait is 100% determined by genetics. No environmental variables during childhood development can affect one's sexual orientation and the brain structures that lead to this.

 

Now in this study, we're supposed to buy into the opposite. That environment during childhood develpment has a huge impact on brain development.

So which is it? I vote for both genetics and environment.

 

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If you're doing that I'd

If you're doing that I'd read through.  I put in some additional info later on and Hamby has a couple of good additions as well.

 

M

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 Quote:What ties all of

 

Quote:
What ties all of those things together are definite biochemical changes within the subject, which could easily lead to changes in the transcription of various genes.  Until you control for that possibility, you cannot draw the conclusion that abuse in early childhood directly leads to changes in the frequency of transcription of a gene. 

DDA, I haven't read the article, even... I just skimmed it before rushing out the door so as not to miss my sushi date, but what I'm wondering is whether or not this research is intended to demonstrate a direct link or not.  As you say, childhood abuse is directly linked to a number of self destructive behaviors that could lead to a change in transcription, so functionally, we can say that IF childhood abuse leads to said behavior, and said behavior is actually the direct cause of the change in transcription, isn't that enough for a link?  It's just not a direct causal link.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
What ties all of those things together are definite biochemical changes within the subject, which could easily lead to changes in the transcription of various genes.  Until you control for that possibility, you cannot draw the conclusion that abuse in early childhood directly leads to changes in the frequency of transcription of a gene. 

DDA, I haven't read the article, even... I just skimmed it before rushing out the door so as not to miss my sushi date, but what I'm wondering is whether or not this research is intended to demonstrate a direct link or not.  As you say, childhood abuse is directly linked to a number of self destructive behaviors that could lead to a change in transcription, so functionally, we can say that IF childhood abuse leads to said behavior, and said behavior is actually the direct cause of the change in transcription, isn't that enough for a link?  It's just not a direct causal link.

 

 

Well, the summary article (still haven't read the one in Nature) doesn't make the distinction between dependence and direct causality.  I guess I'm a bit grouchy this week, but bad science writing always bugs me and I do think they're drawing a conclusion prematurely in any case.  Plenty of people get involved in self-destructive behaviors without having been abused in childhood.  If the researchers don't include such a control group in their study, then their study is severely lacking and definitely not worthy of Nature, though I'm sure they've published unworthier stuff in the past.

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Is only 36 people really

Is only 36 people really enough? Even with 24 of them controls?

 

 

 


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 Well, it's a good start,

 Well, it's a good start, but you're right, that's a pretty low n.  And the "accident survivor" control doesn't seem as relevant to the study as, say, 12 alcoholics with no history of abuse.

"The whole conception of God is a conception derived from ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men."
--Bertrand Russell


Vastet
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It isn't enough to make any

It isn't enough to make any definitive mind sets, obviously. Yet that does not preclude the interesting ideas it brings up, and certainly warrants further study.

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