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

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.

From Stress to Genes, Baboons to Hormones

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on February 04, 2017 in How To Do Life
An Interview with Robert Sapolsky

Is Self-Confidence Inherited? A Renewed Debate

By Ray Williams on February 02, 2017 in Wired for Success
New research suggests that self-confidence may have a significant genetic component.

Procuring The Unconventional

Why you need to source your food like a chef; not just for flavor but for health

Do Extraverts Have More Children?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on January 24, 2017 in The Human Beast
Extraverts are more vulnerable to boredom. In the evolutionary past, they likely relieved the boredom by having affairs. Did this improve their reproductive success?

Is Humanity's "Moral Sense" Inherited or Nurtured?

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on January 22, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
Humans inherit many things from their ancestors beyond genes. Darwin argued with evidence that humanity's "moral sense" is part of their nature, not against it. Where did it go?
Mark E. Williams

Aging, Genetics and DNA Repair

Are we programmed to age in a certain way?

Why Do Large Dogs Have Shorter Life Spans Than Small Dogs?

Bigger is not better when it comes to the size of dogs. Recent data help explain why larger dogs age more quickly.

Learning From Orca Menopause

By G.A. Bradshaw PhD, PhD on January 15, 2017 in Bear in Mind
How neuropsychology provides insights into the true nature of Killer Whale morals and culture.

Opposite Genetic Profiles of Autism vs. Schizophrenia

Although both autism and schizophrenia feature symptomatic communication difficulties, genetic profiling reveals them to be opposites as proposed by the diametric model.

What Molecular Biology Has Neglected in Evolution

Ever wonder how life started? Was DNA really the beginning of life on earth or did life come from outer space?
ZF foto at big stock.com

Estrogen, Progesterone, Your Genes and Mood

By Susan Noonan MD on January 08, 2017 in View From the Mist
Researchers found a biologic link between your genes and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)

Imprinted Genes and Infant Temperament: First Findings

The first study to compare expression of imprinted genes with measures of infant temperament yields encouraging results for the imprinted brain theory.

Can We Slow the Aging Process in Dogs?

Aging is a risk factor for many life-threatening diseases in dogs. Pilot data shows that new drug may slow the effects of aging.

Intergenerational Epigenetics and You

By Jesse Marczyk Ph.D. on December 30, 2016 in Pop Psych
Inheriting your grandfather's behavior is unlikely.

A Debate on the Pros and Cons of Aging and Death

By Allen J Frances M.D. on December 24, 2016 in Saving Normal
Scientists claim they are close to discovering the fountain of youth and doubling human lifespan.

Trump, Science and Biopolitics

By Pete Shanks on December 21, 2016 in Genetic Crossroads
What can we expect from President-elect Trump’s appointments in the areas of medical research and the life sciences?

“Obese” Mothers and Autism: Not As Simple As It Seems

Maternal BMI is a simplistic measure—particularly when related to the complex issue of the cause of autism.

How Much Wolf Is in Your Dog's Behavior?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on December 19, 2016 in Canine Corner
Data shows that older dog breeds, that is those that evolved earlier from wolves, show less affection and attachment to human beings.

Genes, Environment, and Strategic Planning in Human Behavior

By David M. Allen M.D. on December 19, 2016 in A Matter of Personality
Today's mental health professionals are over-emphasizing biological determinants of behavior and minimizing the importance of the environment, learning, and our ability to think.

Truthiness and Consent

At times we all need the refuge of "truthiness." But when it comes to health and our origins, knowing is better than not knowing.

Give Your Kids An IQ Boost For Christmas!

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on December 17, 2016 in Trouble in Mind
A new book lays bare the myths and facts about IQ and how we can increase or stifle it.

Cycle of Abuse: New Answers

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on December 15, 2016 in The Human Beast
The majority of abusive parents were abused themselves as children. Now we are beginning to understand the underlying biological mechanisms thanks to animal experiments.

Clinical Linguistics: What a Mess! Part 2

Yes, an evolutionary approach to language can help clean up the mess in clinical practice for speech pathologists!

Is There a Gene for Loneliness?

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on December 14, 2016 in The Squeaky Wheel
Our genes can predispose us to being lonely--here's how.