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WP10.jpgWorking Paper #10

Early Experiences Can Alter Gene Expression and Affect Long-Term Development


New scientific research shows that environmental influences can actually affect whether and how genes are expressed. Thus, the old ideas that genes are “set in stone” or that they alone determine development have been disproven. In fact, scientists have discovered that early experiences can determine how genes are turned on and off and even whether some are expressed at all. Therefore, the experiences children have early in life—and the environments in which they have them—shape their developing brain architecture and strongly affect whether they grow up to be healthy, productive members of society. This report from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child summarizes in clear language why this growing scientific evidence supports the need for society to re-examine the way it thinks about the circumstances and experiences to which young children are exposed.

Suggested citation: National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2010). Early Experiences Can Alter Gene Expression and Affect Long-Term Development: Working Paper No. 10. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu


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