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 multiple 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

Some Clarification For Angelina Jolie Pitt's Followers

By Karolyn A. Gazella on March 28, 2015 in The Healing Factor
Angelina Jolie Pitt should be applauded for talking about her very difficult decision; however, did she miss a valuable opportunity to clarify some issues and talk more about proactive prevention that does not include surgeries?

Changing the ‘No Casserole’ Response to Mental Illness

A mother of two who is active in the International Bipolar Foundation shared a story the other day. When her youngest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, friends called, sent cards and flowers, brought food, and posted encouraging Facebook messages.

How Does Practice Hardwire Long-Term Muscle Memory?

Why is it that once you've learned how to ride a bicycle or serve a tennis ball that you never forget the muscle memory involved in these actions? A team of neuroscientists recently pinpointed a new mechanism behind the consolidation of long-term motor memory.

Genetics of Longevity

By Mario D Garrett PhD on March 27, 2015 in iAge
There is a schism between lifespan and theoretical lifespan…human behavior.

Departing Earth

By Kenneth Worthy Ph.D. on March 26, 2015 in The Green Mind
Scientists, engineers, and science fiction writers have long imagined leaving Earth to colonize space, but now a budding company is accepting volunteers to become astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars. Is this just the first wave of permanent departures from our home planet—a long exodus in which forsake our precious Earth?

Life Expectancy

By Mario D Garrett PhD on March 26, 2015 in iAge
Check a dictionary and the entry for Life Expectancy is WRONG...no wonder so many people misunderstand the concept.

The New Improved BMI

BMI categories underestimate the presumed health consequences of lower weights and overestimate the presumed health consequences of higher weights.

Recovering From Seasonal Shifts in Mood in Bipolar Disorder

By Elizabeth Brondolo Ph.D. on March 26, 2015 in Take Control
For people who have bipolar disorder, seasonal changes in mood can disrupt your health and well being. You can learn to recognize and address these seasonal shifts before they cause harm. We examine the effects of these shifts on motivation, thinking and identity. Early recognition can help you gain better control of bipolar spectrum disorder.

Precision Medicine’s Cultural Limits

"Everyone is different." This is the fundamental tenant of Precision Medicine: to utilize this difference to improve outcome. Real life is more complicated, and there is a lot that is not yet worked out before this approach will yield benefits.

Should Autism Be Diagnosed in Infancy?

By Claudia M Gold M.D. on March 25, 2015 in Child in Mind
Autism research is coming out from the shadows of the "refrigerator mother theory' to show the importance of working with parent and child together to promote healthy development

If Selfish Genes Build Brains, Why Aren’t We All Solipsists?

Contrary to what you might think, the “selfish gene” paradigm does not imply that we should be self-centered to the point of believing that only we exist.

The Neurobiology of BDSM Sexual Practice

How can one experience pain, either the physical pain of a smack on the tush or the emotional pain of humiliation, as pleasurable? Aren’t pain and pleasure diametrically opposed? The answer, informed by neurobiology, is that the opposite of pleasure isn’t pain but ennui— a lack of interest in sensation and experience.

Whatever Doesn't Kill You, Will Only Make You Stronger?

By Dawn C. Carr MGS, Ph.D. on March 20, 2015 in The Third Age
When bad stuff happens to resilient people, it appears that in the short-term they don’t do anything different from what nonresilient people do. Instead, they feel something different about their ability to handle things. And as a result, they fare better physically and psychologically over the long-term.

The Urge to Connect

A 3 billion year perspective on where the human race is headed

Is ADHD Genetically Influenced? Yes!

The evidence that ADHD behaviors have at least some genetic influence is absolutely overwhelming. Distorting and cherry picking research is not the way to advance good discussion on important topics.

Epigenetics and Memory

Want to increase your cognitive function? Eating the right foods can boost your brain power.

Genetics and the Ides of March

The change of seasons has long been known to cause changes in mental health. Is there a genetic component?

Is ADHD Genetic?

Is ADHD a genetic disorder? This seems to be the accepted view among American psychiatrists and parents.

Hustlers Live Better

By Vance Z. Johnson M.D. on March 17, 2015 in What Hurts?
Do you want relief? Pleasure? Peace? You may be hurting your chances. Here are three steps to harness the power of expectation.

Worrying About Dementia

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 17, 2015 in Open Gently
Anxiety is a risk factor for dementia.

Repairing Broken Women and Men

As an addiction treatment professional, I would make the case that substance abuse and addiction are almost entirely preventable.

Why Caring About Celebrities Can Be Good for You

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on March 16, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
When you cut away its many layers, our fixation on popular culture reflects an intense interest in the doings of other people; this preoccupation with the lives of others is a byproduct of the psychology that evolved in prehistoric times to make our ancestors socially successful. Thus, it appears that we are hardwired to be fascinated by gossip.

What the MTHFR Is Up with this Fancy Folate?

By Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc on March 16, 2015 in Inner Source
How do you know if a common vitamin is actually harmful for you? Learn about the differences in folic acid and find out.

11 Ways to Help a Friend With Bipolar Disorder

Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder may be at the mercy of extreme mood swings, but they are not powerless. Medication, therapy and a healthy lifestyle can help them enjoy full and productive lives, especially when supplemented by the support of those closest to them.

Women Like Men With Big Medals

By Gregg Murray Ph.D. on March 15, 2015 in Caveman Politics
If our basic drive is to survive and reproduce, why do men, who have been the primary war fighters throughout human history, volunteer to subject themselves to the life-threatening dangers of war?

Extreme Jealousy in Relationships

Jealousy is a social convention just like monogamy.

Are Men More Caring Where They Outnumber Women?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 13, 2015 in The Human Beast
In romance, as in real estate it is either a buyer's market, or a seller's market. If there is a scarcity of men (or women) in a society, they get the best deal. If men are in demand, they can play the field. If women are in demand, they can hold out for a desirable partner who is kind, intelligent, and affluent.

An Amish Surprise: Solving the Bipolar Puzzle

Do you know what Abraham Lincoln, Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway and Marilyn Monroe have in common? If you guessed they all had bipolar disorder, you’re right.

The Hard Problem of Life

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on March 11, 2015 in Hot Thought
Life and consciousness are problems allegedly so hard that no amount of scientific progress can ever solve them.

Womb for One

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on March 10, 2015 in How We Do It
The single-chambered womb of women is rare among mammals, which mostly have two separate womb chambers. Through developmental accident, a double womb occasionally recurs in women, but surprisingly does not stand in the way of successful pregnancy. Reduction from two chambers to one in evolutionary has some connection with single births, but there are twists in the story.