Epigenetics- Your Genes Are Changing & You May Have Some Control.

We’ve all been exposed to genetics in basic High School biology. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is the sacred LEGO block of

4×4 Punnett Square – a simple model for understanding probability of inheritance. Some punnett squares can be even more complex.

Nature. The DNA strain is a double helix made up of genes (groups of nuclei). Each gene carries with it a trait that is either expressed in an organism or is recessive. That’s it, that’s the most basic of High School Biology. Unfortunately that is what many people think – you have the gene because your parents had the gene and it is their fault for giving it to you and there is nothing you can do about it.

The study of genetics began with the study of heredity. The idea that the offspring exhibit traits similar to that of their parents has been known as a fact for a long time and for a long time genetics was that simple. Charles Darwin was probably one of the most noted forefather o

This Double Helix contains all the genetic information that makes you you

f the field of study. It was his observation that led him to his legendary idea of Evolution By Means of Natural Selection.  Charles Darwin did not have the knowledge or the technology to understand why – it wasn’t until 1865 – some 10 years later that Gregor Mendal  started conducting experiments on plants. It wasn’t until 1953 that the double helix model was created by Francis Crick & James Watson. At that time the genetic code was cracked. At the same time it was discovered that DNA duplicates – thus allowing cell growth. As a review because it should be well known by the reader – the genetic code is Adenine, Thymine  (AT) & Cytosine & Guanine ( CG) as base pairs, always in that pair. The arrangement of the base pairs creates a trait that is either recessive or dominant.

That is how basic biology has been taught. HOWEVER

it is much more complicated….

GENES don’t do just one thing. In fact – there are specific types – each active in certain cells of the body. You have genes specific for neurons, skin cells, red and white blood cells, etc etc. You also have regulatory genes – these genes control what genes get expressed and when. Regulatory genes are the on-off switches. You also have Master /PAX-6 genes which are responsible in the development of the embryo of an organism.

Albert Bandura was an American Psychologist who is most noted for his study with aggression

Child Beating On The Bobo doll After Watching An Adult – Lets Blame The Parents

in children. In his 1961 study, Bandura had children in his laboratory playing in a small room with double mirrored walls for observation. The key focus of the room was the bobo doll (a large inflatable punching bag in the shape of a clown, a classic children’s toy). The children paid no mind to the large toy, not until a research assistant entered the room and began to punch and kick the doll. After leaving the room the children began to mimic what they saw the adult do – punching, kicking and beating the crap out of the toy. Not surprisingly when the study was made public – the public lost their mind. It was confirmed in the eyes of the public that behavior and other traits are a result of the environment – a suspicion created and fueled by the Behaviorists at the time – Behaviorists like Pavolv & John B. Watson who militantly defended the notion that the environment alone makes us what we are rather than inheritance. The 1960’s was a time of the fear of the “refridgerator moms” – parent’s who didn’t provide enough emotional support to their children would end up having delinquent children no matter what.

Luckily – the study of epigenetics has taken the world of biological sciences by storm – specially the areas of neuropsychology, cancer research, HIV and Stem Cell studies. Epgenetics is the study of the relationship and interaction between genes and the environment. As it turns out – the outside environment has some degree of influence on how a trait is expressed (or if it gets expressed at all).

While Epigenetics has take

You Thought You Were Off The Hook. It’s common knowledge that smoking & drinking while pregnant can have severe consequences on the embryo of a child – stress while pregnant can be just as risky.

n much of the blame off of the parents – the mother is still not off the hook just yet – while genes are turning on and off from the environment as we go about our lifespan – prenatal stress from the mother can also play a hand. Prenatal stress can also play a hand in a child’s risk for Neurogenic Syndrome Disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the child’s sexual orientation or whether they will have behaviors stereotypical of male or female.

Epigenetics & You

Much like everything else – we have some control of our own destinies. We may not be able to help ourselves in determining when we will be born, who our parents will be or what area of the world we are born into but we are not the victims of birth. Just because your parents or grandparents had a trait doesn’t necessarily mean

“You Are Not Your Genes” – Dean Ornish (TED Talk)

you will obviously have the trait too (dominant exhibition of the trait). It simply means you are a carrier and at risk for that gene to be expressed. If cancer runs in the family – you might want to put on sunscreen, avoid alcohol and tobacco as much as you can. If diabetes or obesity runs in the family – you can help your situation by watching what you eat, exercising at least 3 days a week for 20-30 minutes. There are many steps one can take to help yourself. Your genes are the gun – how you set your environment up is your trigger..

Reference:

Association of Psychological Science (2012) Bandura & Bobo. www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/bandura-and-bobo.html#.WK-mKG_yt0w

Grezinko, N., Schmitz, R. (2012) Maternal Stress During Pregnancy: ADHD Symptomatology in Children & Genotype. J Can Acade Child & Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3269259/

DNA From The Beginning Master genes control body plans www.dnaftb.org/37/

Bio Explorer History of Genetics www.bioexplorer.net/history_of_biology/genetics/

Ornish, D. You Are Not Your Genes. TED Talk

 

Play, Creativity & Genius – Part 1: Play

This is going to be a two part blog updated, I could make it into one but to help keep me focused I find it best to break it up intwo two. I’m going to discuss play and later creativity.
The gorilla, when it is not travelling or eating spends a good amount of it’s day playing. Organisms all across the animal kingdom play. The Dutch historian, Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) wrote a book entitled ” Homo Ludens”. In this book Huizinga argues that play has a big part in how we learn. As children we learn how to interact appropriately with others through play. The paradox of this of course is as we enter grade school play is slowly pushed away from us as we are told that we need to learn rather than play. It appears as we get older w play less but that is only an illusion. What are we doing when we engage in sports? when we try to negotiate? Hell when we engage in politics? It’s all play.
I’ve been accused more times than none of playing way too much. If I’m not tinkering with something in my hands I’m tinkering with a thought in my head, daydreaming none the less.
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Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist who spent more time in his own head than he did in an actual physical lab running physical experiments. Einstein’s brain was his lab.
Einstein died in 1955. When he died the scientific and the academic world was ready to see what his brain was like. Einstein’s brain is currently at the National Museum of Health & Medicine in Maryland & a small portion at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. Upon the autopsy following Einstein’s death, his brain was dissected (and later digitized for public viewing) to examine where his genius came from. Examination of Einstein’s brain showed that his brain was different than the average. In Einstein’s brain, the region associated with the creation of abstract thoughts and the manipulation of symbols known as the angular gyri was larger than the average on both hemispheres by 15%. Everything else about his brain is what would be expected. The question remains and it is a chicken or the egg puzzle – was Einstein a genius because his angular gyri was larger than average OR is his angular gyri larger because he used it more?
By default the human brain isn’t habituated to thinking abstractly. Our brains prefer to play by the rules and stick to protocol because it is easier (remember our brains have limited capacity and doesn’t like to work harder than it has to). Thinking abstractly – out of the box comes from repetition, practice and habit.
In my early days as a magician, and as a mentalist this day when I receive a new gadget or principle my first instinct is to throw away the instructions and take it part – find a new novel way of using the item. Sometimes I get lucky and reinvent the wheel and sometimes I have to given in and stick to the protocol of it’s original purpose. That leads into my next topic, creativity and I will leave it at that until next month.
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What I’m All About

I get asked a lot about what it is that I actually do, sometimes it is easier to show than to explain but if there is time I will often demonstrate. I’m sure those reading have seen videos of me floating about on the web. I’ve done much growing and maturing since many of those videos were posted so they are no longer a great example of my mission in life and the purpose of what I do.

In simple terms I’m an entertainer. I personally am not a firm believer in art for arts sake. The whole history of theatre is filled with moments the show didn’t just entertain – it changed the public opinion. The performing arts has always been a propaganda machine. the Ancient Greeks all the way up to the Middle Ages treated entertainment as a teaching tool or a persuasion technique to change public opinion about an issue.

I’ve been performing since 1996, it wasn’t until the late Summer of 2016 that I had my revelation. I like to think of myself not only as a entertainer but also a educator. My transformation began when I was working a festival. It was in the afternoon about 3 PM, two hours before the festival was to shut down. I was taking a break to reset my gear for the next round of people to pass my booth. I had been doing handwriting analysis demonstrations all day. A young girl who had visited my booth twice sat down next to me (at my booth) and asked if I help people. It was right then and there that I found that people saw more to what I do than I did.

I had recently graduated from Murray State University where I studied psychology and theatre. During my time I took many classes in a variety of fields from biology, art, language, archaeology and anthropology. During my psychology studies I focused a lot on neuroscience and cognitive psychology.

It was at that moment in the twilight of Summer in 2016 that I had to combine my knowledge with my talent as a performer. I rewrote everything, took me 4 months to do so and I came out with a program that is both entertaining and informative. People are no longer just getting entertained – they are coming out with something that they can actually use.

The program I have now involves 3 memory demonstrations, and a lot of demonstrations that revolve around attention and deductive reasoning and 1 that explores the sensation and perception of touch. I won’t go into any details here about the show to spare you, the reader of any spoilers. But it is during the process of these bits that I also give information that they can actually use. I’ll be honest – since what I do is educational theatre, a few of my claims are in all honesty farfetched BUT the science behind it is factual (think Michael Crichton). Being a psychological entertainer has some of it’s own quirks – Unlike other forms of entertainment – I can actually use the skills from the show in the real world.

.I personally believe there are far more interest in having good/supper memory, keen observation and good deduction skills than there are being able to psychically read minds or bend metal objects as I have done in performances past. My experience so far has proven that my assumption is true. Even back in my metal bending days – I had to walk on egg shells as to avoid starting a cult (I even scared someone not on purpose however).

It is my goal in these blogs as well as in my performances to hopefully show you how you too can come to obtain the ability to retain memory better (and longer), spot things that others have missed, etc. In addition I will be commenting on other areas as well.

Please feel free to email me at any time or visit my main website.

Thanks

-Jordan Allen

The Second Version

This is my second blog series, the first one failed so I’m making another attempt. This will cover commentary in psychological science and tales from the stage.

Welcome to the second version of Penny For Your Thoughts. The first one sort of fell through & was extremely disorganized.

Instead of taking a shotgun approach this will focus on my specialty – commentary on neuroscience.  I’ll also revisit & reiterate topics from the first (failed) blog.

Enjoy
– Jordan Allen                                                                                                                                                       Psychological Entertainer/Hypnotist/Speaker                                                                                         http://www.jallenmind.webs.com                                                                                                                              jallenentertainment903@gmail.com