Epigenetics in externalizing behaviours: Linking the environment and genetics as a key to understanding externalizing behaviours across species

Tuesday 7 March 2023, 12:30 pm
M. Meijer MSc.
prof. dr. B. Franke, prof. dr. C. Sandi (EPFL, CH)
dr. M. Klein

All our cells contain the same DNA code, a molecule that contains all the information a cell needs to know to perform its functions. How, then, do all our cells have their own functions, when their manuals do not differ? The information for life is not only coded in the DNA, but also by chemicals added onto the DNA. We call this epigenetics. This results in a change to the DNA’s structure, making the code less accessible. This might influence our behaviour. Externalising behaviours, like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and aggression, are often associated with psychiatric disorders, such as ADHD. We do not completely understand the biological mechanisms underlying externalizing behaviours. We do know that behaviour is influenced by both our genes and surroundings. Their interaction can be captured through epigenetics. We investigated epigenetic patterns of externalizing behaviours, and aimed to better understand the biological mechanisms of these behaviours and associated disorders.

Mandy Meijer (1995) obtained her Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences at the LUMC in 2018, and started her PhD research at the department of Human Genetics at the Radboudumc. She carried out part of her research at École Polytechnique Féderale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Mandy will continue her research at the British Colombia Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Vancouver, Canada.