Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Daniel SmithEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_9029


Epigenetics refers to gene expression that can be modified by environmental or external factors, resulting in heritable characteristics, that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Thus, it is a change in phenotype without a change in genotype. Epigenetics instructs how cells read genes. There are numerous definitions of the term epigenetics, which is a regular and natural occurrence, and the study of epigenetics is producing a continually evolving knowledge base.

Epigenetic systems differ from genetic systems as environmental influences do not change the genotype. That is, acquired characteristics of individual organisms or cells associated with environmental or external factors (i.e., epigenetic changes) are not heritable via genetic processes such as DNA mutation (i.e., genetic changes). Rather, epigenetic mechanisms include DNA methylation/demethylation, which influences whether or not a gene is expressed. Transcription may also be influenced via changing...

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References and Readings

  1. Bale, T. L. (2015). Epigenetic and transgenerational reprogramming of brain development. Nature Publishing Group, 16(6), 332–344.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3818.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Holliday, R. (2014). Epigenetics: A historical overview. Epigenetics, 1(2), 76–80.  https://doi.org/10.4161/epi.1.2.2762.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Jakovcevski, M., & Akbarian, S. (2012). Epigenetic mechanisms in neurological disease. Nature Medicine|Review, 18, 1194–1204.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA