How You Know You’re in Love: Epigenetics, Stress & Gender Identity | Karissa Sanbonmatsu | TEDxABQ


Translator: Karissa Sanbonmatsu
Reviewer: Chryssa Takahashi I love you. (Laughter) When you are in a relationship,
when do you say, “I love you,” for the first time? How do you know you are in love? When do you define the relationship? When do you make it ‘Facebook official’? (Laughter) We all know the symptoms of love: the butterflies in your stomach,
your hands getting clammy, so nervous, you are terrified, but you cannot wait for more. There’s a lot going on
when you fall in love. You thought it was just a bunch
of heartache and money. Your brain goes through
all kinds of changes. It gets flooded with oxytocin,
the love chemical. Falling in love is physiological. On the other hand,
since the time you could walk, you’ve heard stories
about love from everyone. Is the ability to fall in love
genetically programmed or were you conditioned to fall in love? Is it nature or is it nurture? We do not know. What exactly do we mean
by “Nature vs. Nurture”? By “Nature” we mean things
that are genetically programmed, passed down from generation to generation, apart from a fluke mutation
once in a while. By “Nurture” we mean
things that are learnt, or a product of your environment,
like riding a bike, or maybe staying in the sun
too long and getting skin cancer. How about the ability to deal with stress? Is that genetically programmed,
or a product of your environment? How about gender identity?
Nature or Nurture? How about the ability to annoy people? (Laughter) Don’t you just want to ask
that annoying person at work: “Were you genetically programmed
to be that way?” (Laughter) “Or do you actually practice that
in front of the mirror all day?” (Laughter) Some traits are not nature and not nurture but something different
all together: epigenetic. Epigenetics literally means
a layer above your genetics. If your genetics is the hardware, your epigenetics is the software,
or the operating system. Your epigenetics allows
the environment to change your DNA. The most famous example
of epigenetics is the response to stress. A group in Montreal used rats
to go after the specific question: “If you are an attentive mom, does
that affect the DNA of your children?” They looked at two populations of rats. In population number 1 the mothers were very nurturing,
licking and grooming their pups. These baby rats actually
have the royal treatment. Mom’s cuddling them
all the time, tying their shoes, driving them to soccer practice every day. (Laughter) These baby rats had it made. They looked at the DNA of these baby rats,
and the DNA looked fine. In population number 2
these mothers were not very nurturing. No licking, no grooming,
no cuddling. Not very attentive. They looked at the DNA of these baby rats and they found strange marks on that DNA, and those marks were positioned
precisely at the stress response gene. In fact, these baby rats
couldn’t deal with any stress at all. And that behavior persisted
for their whole lifetime. For kicks, they decided
to look at the grandkids’ DNA. And the grandkids’ stress response gene
was turned off too. How could that possibly be? How can a mother nurturing
her pups change their DNA? Let’s think about what DNA is. DNA is a molecule that’s very thin and very long. There is enough DNA in your body to wrap around the Earth
2.5 million times. How can all that DNA
be squeezed into your body in such an organized way
to control everything? Your DNA is threaded around tiny, microscopic spools, trillions and trillions of these spools. Here we can see DNA
in all its glory, atom for atom. It’s wrapped around molecular spools, called histones, in blue. At first, the stress response
is turned off. But when our baby rats
are being hugged and cuddled, serotonin is released in their brains. Serotonin turns on a light switch, called lysine number 4. This is chemically modified, or acylated, triggering the spools to unwind,
unwrapping the DNA, exposing the stress response
part to the cell. So our baby rats are happy and healthy. You can think of it like a garden hose. Imagine a garden hose a mile long, here in this theater, floating in the air. Do you know those garden hose spools,
the plastic ones, to store the garden hose? Imagine thousands of those spools
winding and unwinding, turning genes on and off
with exquisite precision. Somehow, these spools have special powers. They know what is happening
all around the cell. They can turn the genes on and off at just the right times,
at just the right moments. They are so exquisite, they can take an egg cell
to an embryo to a newborn baby. So our molecular spools are winding
and unwinding, controlling everything, like the maestro of a big dance,
or better yet, a DJ. If our hose were actually
the color green and glowing, then we’d actually have
a real rave party in here. Like, you know — ♪ Boots and pants and boots and pants
and boots and pants and boots and pants ♪ (Laughter) OK. (Laughter) (Applause) So that was Epigenetics 101; a big rave party in your cells, where DNA and socialization
get all tangled up together. How about gender identity? Was I born a girl or did I become one? This question shattered almost every romantic relationship
that I’ve been in. You see, I am a woman
who happens to be transgender. For years I struggled, until I finally found the courage
to be who I really am. (Applause) (Cheers) If you think love is complicated, imagine what it is like for me; about as complicated
as that DNA molecule we’re looking at. Luckily, both of my parents
nurtured me all the time, so I have plenty of serotonin
stored up to deal with stress and to be here,
on this stage, coming out. (Applause) I’ve been following in the footsteps of Laverne Cox, Geena Rocero
and Janet Mock. Back when I was in therapy,
my therapist mentioned: “If you could identify
the genetic basis of gender dysphoria, it would be a real breakthrough.” She actually used the word rockstar, and who does not want to be a rockstar? At the time, I was working
in the field of RNA. This is DNA’s molecular cousin. So, I sat down and I googled, “RNA and gender identity.” There was only one hit,
“steroid receptor RNA activator.” This helps estrogen do its thing. It also directly binds
the sex reversal factor. I went to my postdoc, Irina. “I’ve got this RNA molecule
and no one has really heard of it. It is so big, it’s going to be
almost impossible to study. How about this for your new project?” “Well, let’s go for it!” To set the stage, remember
our molecular spools? Always in the know. Somehow they knew what was happening, always in right place, at the right time. How do these spools
know what’s going on? Groups around the world
are racing to figure this out. Many think that it could be RNA. You see, RNA molecules
can sense their environment. They can bind drugs and vitamins. If our big RNA molecule
were highly structured, it could actually talk to those spools, telling them what’s happening
all around the cell. Like: “Yikes, it’s freezing
in this part of the cell.” Or: “Mmm, caffeine
in this part of the cell.” Or: “Run for your life.
It’s a sperm molecule.” (Laughter) On the other hand, if our big RNA had no structure,
like a bowl of spaghetti, then all that it could say to the spool
would be gobbledygook, like: “Bo tosh beer job blue Dee
ray ahh cock kook nay.” (Laughter) OK, that wasn’t gobbledygook. That was the Klingon language
from Star Trek, but you get the idea. (Applause) In the end, this is what we found. Our big RNA molecule
had structure everywhere. 25 helices in all,
all kinds of interactions. This is just a baby step, but it’s a proof of principle
that RNA could be the answer. RNA molecules have been shown
to have links to Alzheimer’s and autism, and epigenetic effects,
in general, have strong ties to addiction, depression, schizophrenia. Ten years ago, we couldn’t fathom
how these could be. Now, we are taking the first steps. Some day, we might understand love, which brings us back to our question: how do you know you are in love? We can’t answer this yet, but maybe in the future,
when your kids ask you: “How do you know you’re in love?” you can answer: “It’s simple. When lysine 4 on histone 3 at the oxytocin receptor gene
is chemically modified. That’s how you know you’re in love.” (Laughter) (Applause)

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Comments

  1. Been around hot girls my whole life, haven't been in love for years, now I think I fell in love with a girl who doesn't stop smoking cigars and is the total opposite of me. I know she's not hot, healthy or even pretty but it's just so strange what I feel, now i'm all around looking for an explanation. It's been so long since I felt something remotely like this, hmmm I'm a healthy guy who always works out, never smokes or even drinks a single bear. I'm in college and she's not. Damn I feel like crap, she seems to like me too and I just can't seem to stop flirting with her at work. My friends make fun of me but I just tell them I'm pretending and they believe me for now, just to look cool. Can someone experienced help me?.

  2. Is there such a thing as TOO MUCH body language? Because I felt like I couldn't concentrate on what the speaker was saying because of all the hand waving and other things. And I agree with some of the comments here, I usually find TED videos to be very specific, so that's why I love them- not too long, not boring, not too general, not boring. I believe this one was all over the place- I mean, I do think that Dr. Sanbonmatsu is very well informed on all of these topics, but I wish it was just one discussed properly in this talk.

  3. i have listened to all 3 ted talks and for some reason cannot stand to hear the speakers voices. how do you know you're in love? you feel your own heart for the first time for someone else. simple.

  4. That was an amazing presentation !!! Dr.Sanbonmasu with all my heart and sincerity….applaud and admire you….and your research ! Beautiful !! It touched me…made me realize something about me,and my life in general.
    Past 3 years I realized I have depression, actually longer at least 10 years . But just in the last 3 years got some help.When I started to get suicidal thoughts, it became worse,to the point of planning it.I decided to get help,during one of the sessions with my psychiatrist we hit this topic.I recall maybe falling in love maybe 2-3 times,I've been in my relationship for 15-20 yrs we have 2 kids( son:10,daughter: teenager 15) I have been with lots of women, all over single and during my relationships not proud to say I've always been unfaithful,and suffered consequences.I'm sad to say I lost my love for my common- law,and probably never did love her.Don't get me wrong …I will always take care of her and kids for the rest of our lives support her and kids in any way….after all she will always be the mother of my only kids.
    Sadly the main reason I never asked her to marry me,I'm always looking for love everywhere else, I also realized that I always have trouble with love affection,stress,feelings,etc..and this stems,way back……my mother and father. They never showed any affection,communication,stress etc…towards each other,or my brother and I. I'm repeating the pattern just like they did with their parents,from all the family stories I hear….my dad, grandfather,great grandfather, acted the same way I did.
    I try to be different…with my kids at first I was cold ,but then swore to my self, I don't want to be like my parents and now I adore them not a day goes by when I don't hug them, kiss them, tell them how proud I am of them,how much I love them,ask them if they have any problems, and always kiss and tuck them at night.My son is affectionate,hugs,kisses,etc…my daughter on the other hand is the opposite. I guess she has my gene and since she's the oldest, see's her mom and I cold, no affection,etc… and sadly picking up traits,examples, learning from us ?

  5. If doc was really coming out (s)he would have told us that (s)he is a hermaphrodite with both sexes and that sex between two people of the same bloodline, or incest produces a human being with both sexes also known as intersex or hermaphrodite. The choice involved in that is who the parents choose to mate with. Any doctor who graduated medical school knows that. In fact, all females are psuedohermaphrodites. The female clitoris is an underdeveloped penis. That is what the clitoris is, always was, and always will be, an underdeveloped penis. To withhold the truth is to lie. The prohibition against incest has always been a religious tenant. Only a slave would let someone else tell them who they can or cannot have sex with. Slavery does not work without religion. Religion does not work without death. Death is eternity inside of the Sun, with god, who is the devil and the consciousness of all who have died. In order to remain in this life we must bring back Nature's original human being, the hermaphrodite. If we continue to breed with strangers on the street and continue to teach our offspring they must die for thousands year old fairy tale characters, Nature will keep sending us into death, which you now know is the Sun. As long as the human species continue to take death for granted, they will continue to be granted death. If you can look around at this incredible creation and think no better than to die, then you deserve to die. Nature has always, does now and will always only keep the best seeds in life. This is Natural Selection by the Natural Law.

  6. Primary example of how white western "hard sciences" and their purveyors, such as this white woman, have de-evolved into becoming pantomimes dishing out half cooked theories and sensationalist nonsense pandering to the increasingly illiterate "cultured" middle-class, who are increasingly smug in their cultural supremacy over the rest of "darker" world and in their knowledge of "science" gained off of browsing through TED talks and New Scientist, whilst hanging on to the coat tails of the capitalists, corporations and the State.

  7. Great talk Dr. Sanbonmatsu,
    I was wondering how your research has been going. I am fascinated by DNA, RNA and epigenetics?
    On the topic of DNA and gender do you think XX verses XY chromosomes could just be as simple as folding similar to genes/proteins but at the DNA scale? Could a switch exist that causes this folding and could it be reversed in vivo?

  8. Scary research for TS people. If it can be proven then a cure could be found. Humans feel the need to alter what occurs naturally. TS people are everywhere and have always been. They are harmless to society but society feels the need to alter who they are.

  9. These type of speeches fascinate me. I'm glad to see I'm not the only trans person who is enamored. Amazing job Dr. Sanbonmatsu, your speech completely captivated me.

  10. Be who you are… don't try to explain yourself. . . Refuse to fit in anyone's lable.].].].]
    I love home crafts, DIY and engineering. Does that make me male or female? No, just some one who loves knowledge and wisdom. 1in 10 identify as LGBTI . —- In a world of 7 billion people, that means 700 million who are LGBTI… you are not alone.

  11. Take a sip of something please. Ugh I hate when you can hear the slush of a persons mouth parts drying out like a barren desert and making that tacky, stitchy kinda chewy sound someones mouth makes when you listen to them talking. Oh take a drink of water lady.

  12. I can't even begin to understand the hate directed towards someone solely because he or she is transgender. Very disappointing.

  13. I realized she was transgender only from THIS VIDEO. I had absolutely no clue from the other videos I watched before this. God bless her. Great Ted talks

  14. It's a great speech but the problem is title of the video is just wrong. I couldn't concentrate on the speech and enjoy it because I was like "It's not what I'm here to see, tell me things that answers the question on title". So yeah, great speech, she is a good speaker but not what I was expecting and that made the video boring for me

  15. I had a feeling it was a transgender from the start something about him I guess gave it off. Anyway, the talk was good it wasn't what I came here for but it still gave me something in return.

  16. In many ways, how much you miss a person reflects how interdependent your lives have become. If you are questioning whether you love someone, perhaps consider how much you miss him or her when you’re apart.
    I made a video in my channel about 5 signs of being in love you can watch it

  17. 0:24 I knew bc she was the person I wanted to be with the rest of my life I would always get nervous around her, she made me laugh, smile even though I was sad, the first thought I had when I woke up and the last when I went to sleep.

  18. "Were you genetically programmed to be that way, or do you actually practice that in front of the mirror all day?" 😂😂savage woman

  19. Karissa, thank you! Speechless, you are brilliant, funny, sweet, pretty, etc. etc. So interesting your talk, you got the whole attention of the all the audience, they love you!

  20. When she talks about the rats being nurtured and it affecting the DNA of them plus their grandkids… We already knew that abuse and dysfunctional families affects how the brain develops and how children learn to respond to the outside world/people. Trauma literally damages the brain and our DNA. We know that mental health disorders can be passed down generationally, but so does patterns of abuse and dysfunction–that part is the part that no one talks about or is rarely acknowledged.

  21. YES a lot of the answers do lie within the RNA. From your conclusion you are stating that Love is nothing more than some chemicals and cell language…that kind of statement makes me think that "Love " doesn't really exist and that in 2 years when those chemicals start to wane we are now no longer in love? Quick update your "status". I call bunk. I believe Love is a CHOICE! I am a sentient being, I am not made up of nothing more than a meat bag injected with chemicals/cells to create me…the AI expression of my society? NOPE…there I a lot more going on in my head. Science can't explain ALL…how do we explain Art? Arts of ALL forms?
    Not by labeling me a meat bag…

  22. This is interesting and inspiring topic. When you falling in love, all the impossible things become possible, your way of thinking turns into positive things. You can't really explain the feeling of being in love. That feeling is the best feeling that everyone could be experienced.

  23. Audience became kids for 12mins.simply superb her words are spell bounding. Thank you mam.

  24. I dont think love exists, it's just a chemical reaction. Real love exists from God, but I'm not really religious, I just know there's a higher power.

  25. The way she moves and talks looks like Colleen Ballinger and Cory reenacting how she told him she was pregnant lol

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