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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

An evening of brains and brews

Professor Mike Mana speaks at Neuroscience on Tap in February. // Photo courtesy of Coco Besson
Professor Mike Mana speaks at Neuroscience on Tap in February. // Photo courtesy of Coco Besson

Behavioral neuroscience instructor Blair Duncan will bring beer and brains together at her lecture “Epigenetics: How Experience Changes Your Genes,” at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 6, at Glow Nightclub downtown.

The presentation is part of Neuroscience on Tap, a free lecture series hosted by the behavioral neuroscience program, said Coco Besson, Western’s behavioral neuroscience program coordinator.

Epigenetics is the study of how environment influences what traits are expressed in genetic code, Duncan said. In other words, epigenetics offers evidence of how experiences can change which genes and traits in a person are turned on and off.

An example of how this would be how an extremely traumatic event that may lead to an increased likelihood of an anxiety disorder later in life, Duncan said.

“Everyone has a brain and I think a lot of people want to know about [epigentics],” Duncan said.

Ryan Kydd, the Neuroscience Research Driven Students (NeRDS) present, said the lectures are intended for the public and students from all academic fields.

“The NeRDS club is all about interest in research, not being a neuroscientist,” Kydd said. “Curiosity is just invaluable by itself.”

Specifically, Duncan said she will be speaking about some of the studies that have been done to research this topic as well as the ways that scientists are looking at manipulating these effects.

“[This lecture] could give you new insight into the environment that you put yourself in and how that affects you and your potential offspring,” Duncan said.

Glow was chosen because of its private atmosphere and easily accessible downtown location, Besson said.

“I don’t think you have this style in any other lecture series that is out there for the public,” Besson said.

Students should look forward to walking away with a better appreciation of how both the environment and the genes they have are important for creating the person that you become, Duncan said.

The lecture series hosts a variety of speakers that come from neuroscience backgrounds, including medical neurosurgeons, professors and instructors from the behavioral neuroscience department, Besson said.

When the series first began in 2008, the program held one lecture per month. Now they host one lecture each quarter to make them more convenient for the faculty involved, Besson said.

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