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Animal behavioural traits often covary with gene expression, pointing towards a genomic constraint on organismal responses to environmental cues. This pattern highlights a gap in our understanding of the time course of environmentally responsive gene expression, and moreover, how these dynamics are regulated. Advances in behavioural genomics explore how gene expression dynamics are correlated with behavioural traits that range from stable to highly labile. We consider the idea that certain genomic regulatory mechanisms may predict the timescale of an environmental effect on behaviour. This temporally minded approach could inform both organismal and evolutionary questions ranging from the remediation of early life social trauma to understanding the evolution of trait plasticity.