Understanding Genetics

All traits and personality characteristics, from height to fear of heights, are driven by a complex interplay of genes and environmental feedback. We now know that the lion's share of human genes are expressed in the brain and that almost all normal and disordered behaviors are polygenic, meaning that they are influenced (not to say caused) by genes. Scientists are therefore tasked with a massive but increasingly plausible mission: mapping the pathway from genes and mediating forces to the person you see in the mirror (known in biological parlance as the "phenotype").

Recent posts on Genetics

A Downside for Trophy Wives: Sexually Diminished Husbands

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on August 09, 2016 in How We Do It
Increasing reproductive problems with age are by no means confined to women. Clear evidence of similar drawbacks for men has been widely ignored. Trophy wives pay a high price!

A Wolf Is a Dog Is a Coyote Is a Jackal Is a Dingo

By Mark Derr on August 09, 2016 in Dog's Best Friend
Coyotes, it turns out, are basically wolves—and so are dogs.

Canine Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

By Nicholas Dodman on August 07, 2016 in Dog Days
Have you ever wondered why some dogs exhibit pointless repetitive behaviors? I'm talking wrist licking, tail chasing, flank sucking, shadow chasing, and so on. If so, read on.

Mothers, Madness, and Mitochondria

The role of mitochondria in providing energy and countering cancer, along with their maternal mode of inheritance, makes them predictably implicated in psychiatric disorders.

Is the English Bulldog a Doomed Breed?

New data suggests that the gene pool for the English bulldog is too small to maintain a healthy population.

Why Age Has Little Effect on Happiness

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on August 02, 2016 in The Human Beast
There is little change in happiness between ages 20 to 60. At the age of 60, happiness increases noticeably but there is a strong decline after age 75.

How Does a Lung Cancer Diagnosis Change a Life?

Does a lung cancer diagnosis lead to new ideas about lifestyle, stress relief and disease? Yes it does.

Fighting Lung Cancer Stigmas Saves Lives

How reframing lung cancer can lead to earlier diagnoses, more knowledge about the disease and maybe, just maybe, a cure.

Methylfolate and Resistant Depression

The evidence mounts that methylfolate can be an effective augmenting agent for depression. What do we know about this vitamin, and what are the questions and possible pitfalls?

Epigenetic Mechanism in the Cerebellum Drives Motor Learning

New research pinpoints how we learn new motor skills such as riding a bicycle, playing the piano, driving a car, etc.

Study: Genes May Determine What Diet Works for You

Your genetic composition might determine what specific foods are healthiest for you to eat, according to groundbreaking research being presented at a conference in Orlando today.

The Death of Biological Determinism

By Mario D Garrett Ph.D. on July 14, 2016 in iAge
A new study shows that genetics are not the sole factors that determine disease.

3 New Findings On Human Intelligence

The latest insights on intelligence, imagination, potential causes for the rise in IQ scores over the years, and how behavioral genetics is related to education and grit.
DNA Double Helix/Andrea Laurel/CC BY 2.0

DNA Tests for Ethnic Ancestry in Adoption: A Skeptic’s View

By Rebecca Compton Ph.D. on July 08, 2016 in Adopting Reason
How reliably can your DNA tell a story about where your ancestors came from?

Can Dogs Have Autism?

By Nicholas Dodman on July 06, 2016 in Dog Days
If your dog fixates on things and seems withdrawn and antisocial, maybe he has a canine version of autism – or perhaps Fragile X syndrome?

Cities and Years

By Kaja Perina on July 05, 2016 in Brainstorm
When people ask me what impact a move will have on a child, I have a four-word answer: Depends on the child.

Why Hug?

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on July 03, 2016 in Moral Landscapes
Cuddling with mom. Wrestling with dad. Hugging family members. Loving and playful touch contribute to well-being.

The Carbohydrate Conundrum

Less carbs? More whole grains? What does it all mean? A new study helps clarify.

The Last Time Biological Psychiatry Over-Reached

Purely genetic explanations for a variety of psychiatric and behavioral disorders are currently in vogue in many mental health circles. It is not the first time.

DNA Imaging: Icon of a New, Genomic Literacy

Images of DNA pose the problem of genomic literacy and raise questions about what the text of the genome means, with potentially revolutionary implications for society.

Offering Patients Hope While Still Telling the Truth

How do we manage patient expectations while still offering hope? A retrospective perspective can help.

The Compelling Illusion of Free Will

By David Ludden Ph.D. on June 15, 2016 in Talking Apes
Conscious choice is an afterthought of decision making, not a precursor to it.

Do You Want To Know Your Baby's Genome?

By Temma Ehrenfeld on June 09, 2016 in Open Gently
Gene sequencing for infants may become a routine state-mandated test in hospitals, like the heel-prick.

Designer Babies? Not So Fast

By Temma Ehrenfeld on June 09, 2016 in Open Gently
Reproductive technologies will lead to "designer babies" bit by bit and seem less strange over time.

Mid 21st Century Birthers

By 2050 more than 50% of pregnancies in the US may well start in laboratories rather than in bedrooms or the back seats of cars. A new book addresses the implications.

Why Are Some Soldiers With Combat Stress More Resilient?

By Eric Newhouse on June 07, 2016 in Invisible Wounds
Researchers in San Diego have found genetic differences in two groups of combat vets—those with PTSD and those without it—that may explain why some are more resilient.
unsplash.com/pexels.com

What Causes Alzheimer's?

A new theory of Alzheimer's demonstrates what's lacking in much of present research, plus the need for prevention now.

Did Dogs Arise on Opposite Sides of Eurasia?

By Mark Derr on June 03, 2016 in Dog's Best Friend
Were dogs domesticated twice on opposite sides of Eurasia?

A Hot Mess

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on May 28, 2016 in Obesely Speaking
The thin line between psychic survival against all odds and systematic self-destruction.

Creating Super-People

By Elliot Hosman J.D. on May 25, 2016 in Genetic Crossroads
A future Utopia of Supermen and Superwomen as envisioned by early 20th century supporters of eugenics: What would it look like? Could making a better world be so simple?