Making Peace with Neuroscience

“Neuroscience and Peacebuilding” is a book designed to stimulate awareness of the role that neuroscience can plausibly play in peacebuilding. It describes the work being done in a wide variety of areas of the neuroscience field. It assesses the extent to which neuroscience-based insights and techniques have already been used in peacebuilding and with what results. It explores how, when, and where they might be applied in the future and used in practice. 

Isabelle Mansuy from the Brain Institute, University of Zurich, and Ali Jawaid, from the Center for Neural Plasticity and Brain Disorders BRAINCITY of the Nencki Institute in Warsaw focus in their article on the role of trauma and its impact on the individual and group dynamics that affect peacebuilding processes. The authors explain that epigenetic inheritance does not depend on changes in the DNA sequence. Traumatic experiences can set in motion molecular mechanisms that alter the activity of the genetic code without changing its sequence. The authors also discuss the question of “windows of opportunity” at different stages of life, from pre-conception to embryonic development, postnatal life and adulthood, during which the inheritance of the effects of trauma may be prevented.

Jawaid, A. and Mansuy, I.M. Transmission of the effects of trauma across generations: Biological mechanisms and implications for individuals and the society. Neuroscience and PeaceBuilding, United States Institute of Peace.