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.

Recent posts on Genetics

Scans Reveal Diametric Differences in More Detail

A followup study to a previous one that showed striking diametric differences between autistic and psychotic brains also reveals similarities in the so-called social brain.

Morality: Seeds Must Be Planted Rightly in Early LIfe

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on April 23, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
It’s easy to believe that reasoning is the most important aspect of morality. But it isn't. Morality "goes all the way down" to how well our neurobiological systems work.

Imprinting and the Epigenetics of the Brain and Sleep

One of the best-understood epigenetic mechanisms—genomic imprinting—explains much about both sleep and the brain.

What Is Madness?

By Sheila Kohler on April 17, 2017 in Dreaming for Freud
Madness has also been a useful tool for autocratic governments in countries like Germany during the Nazi period, South Africa under apartheid, or the Soviet Union.
Lori Russell-Chapin

Does Neurocounseling Education Impact Age Differently?

By Lori Russell-Chapin Ph.D. on April 15, 2017 in Brain Waves
Is it possible that neurocounseling and bridging brain and behavior can help us live more effectively and be helpful for any age group?

Are Humans Adapted to Modern Environments?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on April 11, 2017 in The Human Beast
Our two main theories of human behavior do a poor job of explaining how humans change to meet the demands of varied environments – but we do.

Why Do We Stay Single?

Humans, like other animals, have evolved to spread our genes. Which begs the question: why does anyone stay single?

Victim of Biology and Circumstance?

By William R. Klemm Ph.D. on April 10, 2017 in Memory Medic
People have underestimated their capacity to sculpt their own brains, attitudes, and behavior by controlling experiences that affect gene expression.

Do Twins Read Each Other's Minds?

By Nancy L. Segal Ph.D. on March 30, 2017 in Twofold
Some people think twin communicate telepathically, but research shows otherwise.

Could a Blood Test for Cancer Be Dangerous?

Early cancer detection seems right. But it can, in reality, be wrong.

Gender Differences: Equality Versus Similarity

Some feminists deny that true gender differences in behavior exist: they mistake similarity with equality, and neglect an important source of individuality.
Aphiwat Chuangchoem/pexels.com

Endless Jet Lag

Time rules life - including what you crave.

Gut Check

While you sit on your tuffet; how does your inner garden grow?

Mindful in the Classroom: New Lessons in Mental Literacy

A new age of neuroscientific literacy is beginning in the classroom.
Hydra: Wikipedia commons

Why Do We Die?

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on March 18, 2017 in Statistical Life
Our survivability is the bargaining chip that life pays to keep us immortal.

What Is the Future of Genetic Testing?

Anxious about the onslaught of genetic tests? A new book weeds through the morass.

Harvard Study Finds Genetic ‘Toggle Switch’ for Sociability

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have pinpointed specific neuronal circuitry and a 'toggle switch' that can turn a mouse's sociability "on" and "off" in the laboratory.
Paul Ekman, PhD

Growing Old

By Paul Ekman Ph.D. on March 15, 2017 in Face It!
Genetics, sensible living, and luck have helped an accomplished scientist accomplish much of what he wanted in 83 years.

Genetics Play a Role in Social Anxiety Disorder, Study Finds

A new study has pinpointed a genetic link between social anxiety disorder (SAD) and a serotonin transporter gene called "SLC6A4."

Check Yourself (Again): More Mental Health Blunders

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on March 10, 2017 in Insight Therapy
A previous post listed several mental health errors that may hinder psychological well-being. But wait, there’s more…
Charles Darwin/Public Domain

Why Does Autism Still Exist?

By Barb Cohen on March 07, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Some gene variants associated with autism are also significantly associated with high intelligence. “Smart” genes are advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, so they persist.

When a Gene Test Could Help You Pick an Anti-Depressant

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 02, 2017 in Open Gently
If you can afford it, save yourself months and get a gene test when you're depressed.

Do Purebred and Mixed-Breed Dogs Show Behavior Differences?

Purebred and mixed-breed dogs differ in terms of their personality and the likelihood of behavior problems.
FSG - Amazon book page

This Close to Happy, by Daphne Merkin

Why do some people do well and others not when ill with a disease?

Early Brain Over-Growth Is Indicative of Autism as Predicted

The imprinted brain theory links brain growth to autism, and a new study confirms the association.

6 Possible Explanations for Gray Hair

Why do people go gray? Graying of hair is a complicated process. Here are six hypotheses that try to explain this age-related phenomenon.

XO in XY

By Laura Betzig Ph.D. on February 14, 2017 in The Political Animal
A small army of human geneticists is unfolding the history of human mating from our sex chromosomes.

Why Eyes are Blue

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 08, 2017 in The Human Beast
Our remote ancestors likely had dark eyes, whether brown or black. Blue eyes are common in northern Europe and emerged some 5,000 years ago. This suggests evolution can be fast.

Telomere Length and Depression

By Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc on February 05, 2017 in Inner Source
What can old shoelaces teach us about genetics and staving off depression?

Boys Will Be Boys—Even If Raised Believed to Be Girls

Boys born seeming to be girls and socialised as such revert to male after puberty in ~90% of cases, providing an acid test of nature versus nurture.