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Genes, brain, and emotionsInterdisciplinary and Translational Perspectives$
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Andrei C. Miu, Judith R. Homberg, and Klaus-Peter Lesch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793014

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793014.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 July 2021

Epigenetics and twin studies

Epigenetics and twin studies

A review and applications in human aggressive behavior

(p.32) Chapter 4 Epigenetics and twin studies
Genes, brain, and emotions

Jenny van Dongen

Dorret I Boomsma

Oxford University Press

Throughout life, human traits are characterized by variability: they show variation between people and within persons over a time period. Such variation between and within persons can be related to genotype or environment and can be examined in studies of mono- and dizygotic twins. Increasingly, twins are also studied to examine variation at the molecular level, including variation in epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation. These mechanisms regulate how the DNA code is used in cells and are increasingly recognized as important contributors to phenotypic differences. In the brain, epigenetic mechanisms are crucial to development and synaptic plasticity, and are probably at the molecular basis of processes such as learning and memory. Epigenetic mechanisms represent a biological path through which environment and DNA-sequence variants may exert their effects on complex traits. When studying epigenetic mechanisms in human traits and understanding the sources of epigenetic variation twin-based research offers exceptional opportunities. This chapter describes epigenetic mechanisms and the value of twin research, with a focus on DNA methylation and traits related to cognitive and mental health.

Keywords:   twin studies, discordant twin design, epigenetics, DNA methylation, human variation, heritability, aggression

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