Pitzer College Professor Examines How Experiences Influence Genes in New Book

The Developing Genome by David S MooreClaremont, Calif. (February 3, 2015)—Pitzer College Professor David S. Moore’s new book, The Developing Genome: An Introduction to Behavioral Epigenetics, introduces readers to cutting-edge research in behavioral epigenetics, which explores how experiences influence genetic activity. The Developing Genome was published this week by Oxford University Press. Moore is a professor of psychology at Pitzer and Claremont Graduate University.

“This book is about how individuals come to be as they are,” Moore writes in The Developing Genome’s introduction. Moore details how behavioral epigenetics has rendered the nature vs. nurture debate obsolete by demonstrating that individual traits always arise from a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors.

“Why do we grow up to look, act, and feel as we do?” Moore writes. “Through most of the twentieth century, scientists and laypeople answered this question by referring to two factors alone: our experiences and our genes. But recent discoveries about how genes work have revealed a new way to understand the developmental origins of our characteristics. These discoveries have emerged from the new science of behavioral epigenetics—and just as the whole world has now heard of DNA, ‘epigenetics’ will be a household word in the near future.”

Behavioral epigenetics has changed how scientists think about nature, nurture, and human development, and has the potential to alter the way diseases and conditions are diagnosed and treated, according to Moore. The Developing Genome introduces this relatively new discipline to a wide audience, allowing readers without a background in biology to learn about behavioral epigenetics and its far-reaching implications.

David Moore is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist with expertise in infant cognition. Moore explored how human traits are caused by interactions between genes and the environment at every stage of development in his first book, The Dependent Gene: The Fallacy of “Nature vs. Nurture.” The Dependent Gene was nominated for the Cognitive Development Society’s Best Authored Volume award.

Moore is also the founder and director of the Claremont Infant Study Center, which examines how infants perceive and learn from the world around them.

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