Are habits developed after birth embedded into DNA?


Most habits people form aren’t usually from birth but from experience. My question is, are those habits also engraved into their DNA? If so, how? And are these characteristics inherited by their progeny?

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Baring bizarre accidents with powerful chemicals or radiation, DNA stays the same from conception until death. No amount of training, or changes in diet and exercise is going to change someone’s DNA. Take a pair of identical twins. If one studies to be a doctor, they aren’t going to have a ‘doctor’ gene, and their children aren’t more likely to grow up to be doctors.

I think you’re asking if learned experience can be passed down biologically, as opposed to just having to be taught. The answer is yes. For a long time people were sure it was no, so that’s probably what you’ve been taught. The trick is that while your genes themselves (the stuff DNA codes for) may not change their code, it’s actually the expression of that code that makes you. Kind of like it’s not the books in your library that define your education, but the books you read from the library.
With DNA, there’s a thing called epigenetics, where the stands of DNA get extra molecules added to make specific genes easier or harder to express. This happens all the time. Daily rhythms, sleep, diet, activity, and a bunch of other normal things regularly modify which genes are easiest to express, and which are harder. With the library analogy, it’s like some books are out on display up front, and some are in boxes in the back room. The library catalog – your DNA – has not changed, but what readers (let’s think of them as cells or tissues in your body) read and think about is shaped by the librarian’s choices – your experiences.
Now, these modifications happen in sperm and egg cells, just like other cells. So you pass them down to your kids. Severe stresses, especially growing up, make a whole bunch of epigenetic changes that can cause learning disabilities and metabolic challenges (the thought is that the body makes changes to prioritize short term gains and security, but at the cost of long term investments like more brain development, but this is not fully understood). As a result, those born in severe poverty may pass these stress-adaptations along to their kids. Even if those kids are lifted out of poverty, they may still have to undo all that epigenetic modification before they have kids that are not stress adapted. So things like trauma can stay with families for generations.
You really can’t blame people as though they just have free will – we are all products of our environments acting not just on our genes, but through those of our ancestors as well.

yes and no. people have different genetics that can make them sorta predisposed to developing certain habits like drug or alcohol addiction, hoarding, nail-biting, etc. but habits can also be learned. my sister has a habit of talking while facing away from you which she learned from our dad. if you’re really interested in this then i’d suggest looking into epigenetics. it’s how your environment and behaviours can change the way your body reads and understands DNA sequences. it’s pretty cool and may have some more in-depth answers to your question.

In simplest terms, no. We don’t record our habits or memories in our DNA.

That said, our bodies have a way to “mark” (methylate) our DNA to adjust how our cells express certain genes (control how active they are). This is done in response to chemical stresses on our cells, and the process is reversible. It’s possible to pass on these “marks” to our offspring so that they, for a time, share the same tweaks to their gene expression. However, they only receive half of them from each parent, and process is reversible, so the effect can be very short-lived. It also doesn’t transfer complex behaviors or memories, just tweaks in the way our cells respond to their environment.