A Contribution to the Inauguration of the Mauro Cozzolino New School
We are gathered here today to celebrate the Inauguration of the Mauro Cozzolino New School: The International Center of Psychology and Strategic Psychotherapy (CIPPS). In this contribution we will integrate current international research by the ENCODE Consortium to synthesize a new concept of The Psycho-social Genome, which we propose as the foundation of The International Center of Psychology and Strategic Psychotherapy (CIPPS). A major motivation for our new concept of The Psycho-social Genome is the recent publications of 30 leading papers about ENCODE – The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements – in major scientific journals such as Nature, Science Genome Research and Genome Biology. We believe ENCODE is the major international research consortium pulling together the biological basis for psychology and strategic psychotherapy on the molecular-genomic level, which will be taught in our new CIPPS with an innovative program of psychosocial genomic research.
The ENCODE consortium introduced the biological significance of its research in this way (ENCODE project consortium, 2012).
The human genome encodes the blueprint of life, but the function of the vast majority of its nearly three billion bases is unknown. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has systematically mapped regions of transcription, transcription factor association, chromatin structure and histone modification. These data enabled us to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions. Many discovered candidate regulatory elements are physically associated with one another and with expressed genes, providing new insights into the mechanisms of gene regulation. The newly identified elements also show a statistical correspondence to sequence variants linked to human disease, and can thereby guide interpretation of this variation. Overall, the project provides new insights into the organization and regulation of our genes and genome, and is an expansive resource of functional annotations for biomedical research.
The human genome sequence provides the underlying code for human biology. Despite intensive study, especially in identifying protein-coding genes, our understanding of the genome is far from complete, particularly with regard to non-coding RNAs, alternatively spliced transcripts and regulatory sequences. Systematic analyses of transcripts and regulatory information are essential for the identification of genes and regulatory regions, and are an important resource for the study of human biology and disease. Such analyses can also provide comprehensive views of the organization and variability of genes and regulatory information across cellular contexts, species and individuals.
The ENCODE project aims to delineate all functional elements encoded in the human genome. Operationally, we define a functional element as a discrete genome segment that encodes a defined product (for example, protein or non-coding RNA) or displays a reproducible biochemical signature.
The advent of more powerful DNA sequencing technologies now enables whole-genome and more precise analyses with a broad repertoire of functional assays. Notice, however, how ENCODE research is only about the biological Bottoms-Up approach to understanding human nature. The ENCODE consortium does not yet mention our Top-Down approach of psycho-social genomics – how mind and consciousness can communicate with the molecular-genomic basis of behavior to facilitate psychology and strategic psychotherapy, which we illustrate here in figure one.
Much ENCODE research implies the need for a new conception of what genes really are. Figure 1 is our proposal for a functional definition of the gene as the entire daily and hourly cycle of behavior on all levels from the mind to gene (Lloyd and Rossi, 1992, 2008). We propose that these 4 major levels of The Psycho-social Genome: Mind, Mirror Neurons, Genes and the Brain/Body illustrated in figure one requires their integration as follows.
- Mind Research in the top circle represents the classical experimental research of historical psychology (Boring, 1950) with the addition of the more recent emphasis on consciousness studies of art, beauty, creativity, music, truth, dreams and imagination in current neuroscience and psycho-social genomics (Rossi, 1972/2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2012). Key research at this top level of consciousness, dreaming, and imagination explores the Novelty-Numinosum-Neurogenesis-Effect.
- Mirror Neuron Research initiated by Rizzolatti, Gallese (Rizzolatti & Sinigaglia, 2008) and others at the University of Parma in Italy has been greatly expanded from its original neural level focus in the specific F5 area of the brain. Key research now explores the bioinformatic molecular levels of cellular signaling conceptualizing consciousness as integrated information transduction (Tononi, 2008, 2012) from mind to gene via eRNAs, etc., throughout the brain (Iacoboni, 2007, 2008; Rossi, 2007, 2012).
- Genomic Research via the ENCODE project that includes activity and experience-dependent gene expression is currently manifesting a profound breakout. Key research is now exploring the interaction patterns of information transduction in the transcription process arising from ~2 million eRNAs carrying signals from the physical environment and psycho-social milieus to genes bearing ~3 million docking sites as summarized here.
- Brain and Body Research has a new psychobiological foundation in the translation process of producing proteins at the molecular-genomic level. Key research explore how these proteins, often called “mother molecules,” will soon be cleaved into the neurotransmitters, hormones cytokines, etc., that regulate the cells of the brain and body, which ultimately facilitate the dynamics of memory, learning, behavior, stem cell healing, and the qualia of consciousness itself via synaptogenesis and neuroplasticity etc. (Rossi, 2002, 2004 a,b, 2005, 2005-2006, 2007, 2012; Rossi et al., 2008, 2010, 2011).
While we applaud the excellent ENCODE research on the biological genome and will eagerly continue to study their emerging findings, however, in our teaching and research at CIPPS we will explore a more inclusive Top-Down perspective of how mind modulates gene expression and brain plasticity to facilitate behavioral change at the molecular-genomic level. Eventually we hope to integrate the ENCODE Bottoms-Up approach with our Top-Down approach of our concepts of the psycho-social genomics that we will teach in our new International Center of Psychology and Strategic Psychotherapy (CIPPS).
- Boring, E. (1950). A history of experimental psychology. NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts. ENCODE Project Consortium, (2012). An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome. Nature, Volume: 489, Pages: 57–74.
- Iacoboni, M. (2007). Face to face: The Neural Basis of Social Mirroring and Empathy: Psychiatric Annals, 37(4), 236-241.
- Iacoboni, M. (2008). Mirroring People: The new science of how we connect with people. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Lloyd, D. and Rossi, E. (Eds.), (1992). Ultradian Rhythms in Life Processes: An Inquiry into Fundamental Principles of Chronobiology and Psychobiology. NY: Springer-Verlag.
- Lloyd, D. and Rossi, E. (Eds.), (2008). Ultradian Rhythms from Molecules to Mind: A New Vision of Life. NY: Springer.
- Rizzolatti, G. and Sinigaglia, C. (2008). Mirrors in the Brain: How our minds share actions and emotions. NY: Oxford University Press.
- Rossi, E (1972/2000). Dreams, Consciousness and Spirit: The Quantum Experience of Self-Reflection and Co-Creation. (3rd Edition of Dreams and the Growth of Personality). NY: Zeig, Tucker, Theisen.
- Rossi, E. (2002). The Psychobiology of Gene Expression: Neuroscience and Neurogenesis in Therapeutic Hypnosis and the Healing Arts. NY: WW Norton Professional Books.
- Rossi, E. (2004a). Discorso Tra Geni [Italian]. A Discourse with Our Genes: The Psycho-social and Cultural Genomics of Therapeutic Hypnosis and Psychotherapy Translator and Editor, Salvador Iannotti: Saiannot@tin.it). Benevento, Italy: Editris SAS Press. [Available in Italian and English editions]. NY: Zeig, Tucker, Theisen.
- Rossi, E. (2004b). Art, Beauty and Truth: The Psycho-social Genomics of Consciousness, Dreams, and Brain Growth in Psychotherapy and Mind-Body Healing. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 10, 10-17.
- Rossi, E. (2005). The Memory Trace Reactivation and Reconstruction Theory of Therapeutic Hypnosis: The Creative Replaying of Gene Expression and Brain Plasticity in Stroke Rehabilitation. Hypnos, 32, 5-16.
- Rossi, E. (2005-2006). P